The City Space

Cultivating Urban Understanding

7 Tips for Surviving Winter in the City

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Winter is one thing if you’re holed up in a cozy cabin somewhere in the woods, but it’s quite another if you’re slogging through sidewalk slush and snowy rush hour traffic to get to work in the morning. Whether it’s thirty degrees out right now or three, here are seven tips for surviving winter in the city:

  1. Don your boots. Even if you’re on your way to the fanciest party in town, please, for the love of God, put those strappy heels in your purse and don some warm, water-proof boots. Your feet will thank you.
  2. Download real-time public transit apps. You’ll save yourself a lot of shivering minutes if you find an app that tells you exactly when the next bus is coming. Most cities have them. Once you’ve got it, all you need to do is calculate how long it will take you to walk to the bus stop at a respectable pace that won’t leave you sprawled on the ice.
  3. Keep warm beverages close at hand. I don’t mean cardboard Starbucks cups on the daily—I mean a thermos full of your hot liquid of choice. Bring it with you to work, to pick up your kid from school, wherever you need it.
  4. Keep your hat and mittens constantly at the ready. In the event that you’re suddenly stepping off the bus or out the door, stay prepared with mittens in your pockets and a hat in your bag.
  5. Know when to call it off. I don’t want to advocate for a cowardly attitude toward winter—I’m a Minnesotan after all—but I do want to encourage exit strategies when applicable. For instance: You don’t have to stay for all five hours of your brother’s ice hockey tournament. You could just stick around for the first game. And that holiday parade downtown? You can watch it from inside or on tv, and no one will think any less of you.
  6. Embrace the season. You only get to make snowmen for a few months out of the year. (Okay, I confess, us Midwesterners get pretty tired of those dang snowmen once we reach April and they’re still hanging around, albeit a bit brown and crumbly.) But seriously, winter blankets the city in glorious snow and gives us each a chance to snuggle a little closer to the people we love.
  7. Find the light. The sun sets early and light is at a premium. Find the places that hold onto it and spread it throughout your city. It might be a Christmas pageant at the local elementary school. It might be an inviting neighborhood bar. It might be your best friend’s apartment. But I pray that you seek and find the light this winter.
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