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The Cold and the Dark
clann, twig, 2009, GTM
gmcdavid

On December 8 Metro Transit added a new express bus line to downtown Minneapolis, where I work. The northern terminus of this bus line is about 1¼ miles from my home. This is well within normal walking distance for me, and there are sidewalks along Rice Street, where traffic can be quite serious. So I decided it was time to leave the car at home and do my normal commuting entirely by walking and public transportation like mia_mcdavid and I did in Chicago until 1987. I have been doing so ever since.

This has both pros and cons:

Pros

  1. It is more environmentally friendly. One less car on the road.
  2. Driving tied up a major family asset (our 2nd car), leaving it idle and inaccessible in a parking facility all day long. Now it can be used when the 1st car is unavailable.
  3. More exercise

Cons


Tuesday, Janary 22, 2013
Downtown Minneapolis, about 10 AM on January 22. It had warmed up noticeably from 6:30 AM, when the temperature was -14oF/-26oC.


  1. I am walking outside at 6:30 AM. It is cold and dark (this is winter in Minnesota). I feel very vulnerable and lonely. There are lots of cars out, but few other pedestrians. That is the nature of suburbia.
  2. Right after a significant snowfall (this is winter in Minnesota) the sidewalks are unuseable. Then I have to walk more in the streets, which are efficiently plowed before 6 AM, but has the obvious dangers.
  3. When there is a cold north wind (this is winter in Minnesota) it really stings my eyes on the northward afternoon walk. The rest of my head and my body are well covered and can take it, but the rushing cold air easily gets behind my glasses.
  4. It takes about 15-20 minutes more each direction, though that partially offset by (3)under pros — I don't feel as much need for a lunch-hour exercise walk.

During the Holiday season I had "Good King Wenceslas" going through my head frequently during these walks. More recently it has been replaced by Stan Rogers "Northwest Passage."

Fortunately, the walks will get easier as spring approaches. Already there is a reddish glow in the east at 6:30 AM (on clear days).


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"I decided it was time to leave the car at home and do my normal commuting entirely by walking and public transportation like"... I swear I thought you were going to finish this "like God intended." If you wear a scarf up over your nose, leave your glasses off, and pull your hat down good it helps with that nasty wind problem. Of course, lately it's been almost tropical... :-)

lenses and the north wind

During the famous winter in the 1980s when Chicago enjoyed 60- to 80-below wind chills (old chart), the wind brought tears to my eyes, the tears froze on the inside of my glasses, and my vision was utterly blocked. The solution was ski goggles, although unfortunately they will do nothing for the dark, vulnerable, lonely, or pedestrian-hostile aspects of your predawn commute. (Mia's alternative was what I had to fall back on, but then my eyeballs took the brunt of the wind, and the tears froze on my eyelashes instead.)

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