Well, it took a trip into Manhattan to prove what several of the commenters on the previous post pointed out: Americans in cities DO go out in the cold.
There could not have been more contrast between the two days of our weekend. On Saturday morning, we went for a walk in woods at a beautiful nature preserve overlooking Long Island Sound. No-one else had been there since the last snowfall, and the only footprints ahead of ours were those of animals and birds. (And, according to Littleboy 1, Yetis, who he says live in igloos). It was icily cold (minus 5 or so in celsius) but bright and sunny; we wrapped up warm and no-one got frostbite. We saw no-one the entire time, and our car was the solitary vehicle in the parking lot.
On Sunday we went into Manhattan. After taking the Littleboys to see a model railway exhibit at Grand Central Station (perfect for train-loving small boys, and worth the trip to see the station and its fantastic vaulted halls) we ventured outside. Despite even colder temperatures, New Yorkers were out in force, ice skating in the sunshine in Bryant Park (pictured). The trendy Celsius bar overlooking the rink was packed, and there were even a couple of people eating their lunch alfresco. Others were admiring the fountain, frozen solid with impressively large icicles. There was a general air of festivity, despite the chill.
Back home, we walked down Main Street from the railway station to our house. Again, we were the only people about; certainly the only ones who had taken their children outside.
So this attitude to the outdoors (which Iota at Not Wrong but Different expanded on in her own excellent post) does appear to be a peculiarly suburban feature; a seamless journey from heated house to heated car to heated shopping mall does seem to be the default winter behaviour out here. It reminds me why, despite enjoying suburban life more than I ever imagined at present, I think I'll be pleased to return to city life in London at the end of our time here. Don't get me wrong; people in the suburbs are really no different from those in the city, and in many ways life is more convenient, cleaner and safer. But there's something about the life-force of the city that gives it vibrancy, an impulse for its inhabitants to come out of the cocoons of their own houses and become part of its ebb and flow. And that has to be a good thing.