Living in a Cold Climate

I wrote this a few years back, and the cold climate I live in is just the same.


Here in the North East we are used to the cold, which can be as mild as 35 degrees above zero, or 35 degrees below zero.  I was born in ME, but grew up in New Hampshire, and I have lived through more than my share of fair-to-middling cold, pretty darn cold, serious cold and wicked cold.

We learn early on in our lives to layer our clothing, keep our faces, ears, hands and feet warm at all costs, keep jumper cables and an emergency kit in our vehicles and what to do in case of a white-out. Most of us know someone who lost fingers or toes from frostbite, and we take it seriously.

Cabin fever is a real thing. In Northeast lore there are many stories of people who literally went mad cooped up all winter and did irrational things. (Read Jack London; he’s told some good stories about cabin fever.) When my mother compiled our genealogy, there were stories upon stories of what was also called ‘winter madness.’ Don’t think it can’t happen in these modern times, either. Best cures? Get out if you can, even for a few minutes. If your phone works, call someone and yak. If your computer works, well–that’s self-explanatory. Pets and people make good company, or a good hobby.

But most importantly, keep your mind working. Read, learn something new. Put a jigsaw puzzle together. Write something, anything; a letter, a poem, a story, a diary entry, etc.

Just as important, appreciate. As with so many things, attitude is everything. You can look out on a snowy day, with trees bowed down with ice and snow, and the only colors seem to be the dead black of naked branches, cold blue, gray and white, white, white. You can see all that and think, “Yuck! It’s cold, boring and colorless out there! I wish it were summer!”

Or you can look at the sheer stark beauty of those black branches against a breathtaking blue sky, see the constant glimmer and sparkle of the snow, and, if you look hard enough, you can discern subtle pinks and blues in the snow. It can be dazzling or boring; it’s up to your frame of mind.

Just remember, our perceptions can see the world around us as dull and lifeless, or amazing and full of color.

Listen as well. The moan of trees as they push back against the winter winds, the crackle and snap of constantly shifting ice in a pond, the sound that a dry leaf makes when the wind skates it across a frozen field–it’s a symphony like no other.

Enjoy the deep winter while we have it. When we are swearing and sweating in July, we can remember those cold, cold winter days and lower our internal thermometers. Enjoy it while we have it, everyone.

**A winter white-out happens when snow blows in all directions and you may not even be able to see your mittened hand in front of your face. If you are caught in one, your best bet is to stay put and hunker down until you can see again. Most of all, don’t panic!

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