A Freezing Perspective

The Texas Story Project.

To some people, winter is an inconvenience; they know what to expect and are prepared to embrace the cold. But there are also those - either newcomers or the overconfident – who underestimate the freezing temperatures that winter ritually brings each year to the U.S.

My mother was born and raised in Costa Rica – a country widely known for its rainforests and vast variety of animal inhabitants. She had never experienced snow or ice nor could she understand the feeling of being cold – where your teeth chatter uncontrollably while every part of your body cries out for warmth. The weather in this tropical land was either warm or wet all year-round and unless you lived high up in the mountains, the coldest it got was nothing more than a chilling breeze. It is because of this that my mother was spared a childhood where one had to bundle up.

In the fall of 1988, my mother, wanting to discover a new world in her late 20s, traveled to Corpus Christi, Texas to live with her sisters. One warm day in November, my mother stepped out of her sister’s apartment where she stayed at and decided to walk around the surrounding neighborhoods. Wearing a t-shirt and shorts, my mother spent the morning going to several garage sales that the nearby neighbors had going on. When the afternoon came, the temperature dropped drastically and the blowing wind picked up.

By the time my mother started to walk back, the weather had gotten down to freezing temperature. For the next hour, my mother - with no quick ride home - had to trek back to her sister’s apartment in the cold. The weather was at around 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit but to my mother, it seemed to be below zero. When she finally found shelter in her sister’s apartment, my mother’s hands and ears had gone numb from the unbearable cold. Much to my mother’s delight, her sister immediately gave her hot chocolate to warm up.

In the following days, my mother had witnessed ice for the first time - frost that was so severe that birds had dropped dead from the cold. My mother, who had only known winter from a country where it never dropped below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, was caught unprepared at the abrupt change in weather. Looking back, she tells me, “I couldn’t feel my hands, ears and nose - it was like being trapped inside a freezer. I had no idea how cold the weather in Texas could suddenly get.” She was forced to confront this alien feeling of frost. It was on this day that she realized how unforgiving and unpredictable Texan weather can be.

Mario Sosa is a senior at St. Mary’s University, majoring in Public History. He aspires to make history more engaging to the public audience. He is currently interning at the Institute of Texan Cultures where he is helping to renovate exhibits.

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