As the blistering heat of a Washington summer becomes a vague memory, and the leaves start to put on their autumn colour, I wonder what is harder. To adjust to a country’s culture or to its climate? Maybe both are hard and have to be dealt with in their own time. But, imagine if you have never seen sunny days when the temperature outside is near freezing point. All of your senses tell you that it’s a nice day to be outside, until you reach outside and then those senses react and ask “Are you crazy?”
I was describing sleet to my little daughter the other day, after a friend in Canada had told me that it was passing horizontally past her windows. “Wow! I’d like to be in Canada,” came the excited reaction. She cannot wait for snow to start falling. But, the magical scenes that make up Christmas on so many cards is not the stuff of real magic if you have to put your hand into a pond to fish out fish or fallen leaves. I remember those mornings when my car had not been luxuriating in a garage overnight, and had to have frost, snow, and ice scraped from its screens. Miserable. I think of the stories from last winter in the Washington DC area. Sure, people can be better prepared but if you have a lot of difficulties just dealing with the cold, what preparation can you make, except to have an open ticket to somewhere warm and sunny.
It’s been enjoyable the past few days, as we drive to school and frost is coating the grass; its contrast is better for the flocks of Canada geese who are out there having their daily tai-chi sessions. But, if you’ve lived most of your life or even just the past few years in tropical climates, the shock of seeing your breath pass by your face is really something. It may be the first time, and like one of the characters in a children’s book who did not realise that bodily parts fall off and get renewed, you may wonder if you’re losing all of your air.
Imagine the feeling of losing feeling in your fingers as the cold takes grip of your grippers. If it gets to the point where you are suffering chilblains then I will pray for you as you get that sense of having a hammer hit the digits. I remember when I first had that feeling, after a football/soccer game, and I stood in the hot shower and wondered how to stop the horrible pain as my toes warmed up too fast. You cannot reverse the process.
Imagine the sense of skating uncontrollably when you have never set foot on ice. You set foot outdoors and then you are a scene from a badly scripted Viennese waltz for elephants. Thud!
Time to get out some thick socks. The lighting of a fire is a symbol of things romantic, sometimes, but it’s also a warning that we don’t like that chill in the air that is now a common greeting.
The animals who hibernate have it right. Get in some goodies, and find a cozy spot in which to curl up and wait for someone to prod you in a few months time.