The body is an amazing mechanism.  It regulates heat and cold.  It does its best to protect us from harm.  Our bodies are our last stand against the weather.

We’ve sustained some tough weather this season and, as the years advance, and weather patterns change, so too, do our bodies respond to the mystical ruminations above us and beneath us.

What amazes me is how much my body resistances and temperature preferences have changed over the years.

I grew up in the Nebraska snow.  I walked everywhere.  I spent most of my time shoveling six-foot snowdrifts from our angled driveway.  I didn’t like the cold, but I could take anything below 32 degrees without blinking an eye.  However, I was unable to sustain any temperature over 65 degrees.  I would start sweating at 50 degrees.  The warmer it grew, the hotter, and more inconsolable, I became — and when it was time to move away for graduate school, I didn’t head toward the California sun like my peers.  I instead turned Eastward for the welcoming shadow of the urban cold.

After we moved to the East Coast, and got acclimated, things started to change.  The Winter began to bite a bit more.  Nose tips, fingertips and ears began to burn with the threat of frostbite on every middling trek outside.  Was I losing my cold weather mojo?  Or was the world around me changing?

As our time expanded on the East Coast — and we crossed that precious transgression of living more years away from home than we lived at home — the Summers grew more enjoyable.  The sun became a transition from pain to feeling alive.  The heat emboldened the body instead of cursing it.  I stopped sweating in the sun of a party cloudy day.

I am still a bit stunned that I now prefer hot to cold, the punishments of Summer to the nones of my Winter birth — and I begin to wonder if I am starting to show the signs of aging.  Am I becoming one of those old people who prefer to live, shivering, in a baking sauna of an apartment while those around them sweat and wear t-shirt and shorts?

I still enjoy the snow — in small amounts, and yes, I do still sweat when the temperature rises above 70 — but the one thing I cannot abide now is the blistering wind.  Give me snow, rain, sleet, hail, tornadoes, thunderstorms — but keep the wind below 10MPH, please.  The wind sears through me like a branding ember.  If the wind is hot, I am cooked.  If the wind is cold, I am frozen into brittle.  There is no gentle breeze.  There is only wind with a malicious purpose.

I’m not sure when the wind become my enemy, but it was this year that I started to check wind speed in addition to the temperature when I planned my days outside.  The blistering wind is not a friend of mine, and there are few articles of clothing that protect you from the wants of a wind that has no purpose other than to rip right through the very meter of you while howling away in laughter at the glassiness of your intemperate physiology.

5 Comments

  1. I grew up in Iowa and moved to southern Missouri 12 years ago. Our first winter here had a LOT of snow and the locals gasped. “it’s not melting! What do we do?!?!” and cried, “the ponds are frozen!” Life came to a standstill for days, and we laughed at them and happily shoveled our way out. Then summer came and long before it hit 100 I was sobbing in a puddle of sweat. We turned the air conditioner on in march and left it on through October.

    Since that first year we have not had what I would call a “real winter” – meaning snow that lasted more then one day – until this year. It snowed and snowed. It was knee deep. We stared at the cars and cried, “It’s not melting, what do we do?!” then we shouted in horror, “The ponds are frozen!” meanwhile, my air conditioner didn’t go on until late June last summer and went off in September. It’s a very strange state of things, indeed!

    1. Hi Joleene!

      You make a prescient point about changes in the weather. Are we directly experiencing the effects of Global Warming? Have we changed, or has the weather around us changed?

      We’ve never spent a Winter in NYC like we had growing up in Nebraska until this year. All the other Winters were stunningly mild. The snow would fall and disappear. It rarely drifted. In the Midwest, the winds whip the snow into mountains. Here, on the East Coast, entire cities shut down with the threat of a single inch of snow. Growing up, school was never canceled unless there was a foot of snow on the ground.

  2. David,

    Having lived in NJ and NY my whole life (save for when I lived in Seattle for 4 years) I faced brutal winds every winter and I somehow always forget how much worse things are when it is windy outside versus when it is calm — world of difference! That’s when I cover every inch with heavy coat, scarf, and a thick hat.