First, let me say that I know our little cold spells here in Southwest Louisiana don’t compare in the severity of the cold my friends are experiencing up north. This winter has been brutal. I’ve been seeing my friend Suzanne posting updates about having to get up 3 and 4 times during the night to shovel snow to keep it at bay. I talked with a colleague yesterday who reported that the Northwest Indiana area had gotten 85 inches of snow this winter – over 7 feet of the white stuff! She and her son had to dig the mailbox out of a snowbank yesterday so the mailman could deliver mail. My boss said he’ll be paying at least $300 this month for fuel oil to heat his little house this month. And, it was still in the teens as we spoke. I know all of this, and my heart goes out to them. Still, I am cold. And, I am sick of it.
This is the deal I made when I moved down here. I’ll take the heat … the hot, sweaty July and August heat that’s enough to boil your brain on a good day. I’ll take the mosquitoes and the threat of an alligator falling in love with my kayak. I’ll take the monsoon rains that fill yards and ditches with water and mud so deep that you have to wear rubber boots to go outside. I’ll take the 100% humidity that takes your breathe away and makes running feel like you are gasping for oxygen through a wet rag. I said I’d accept all that. I DID NOT …. and I repeat … DID NOT expect the winter to be this cold.
When I unpacked my stuff from Memphis, I pulled out my Lands’ End parka that I purchased for the brutal winters in Chicago. This was in July. I laughed and thought, Yeah… I won’t be needing that down here. I almost gave it away, but I thought there might be a day here and there when I might use it. Well, I’ve used it frequently, and, often it hasn’t been enough. I walk my dog every morning, but she’s been getting short-shrifted lately. I put on my long johns, my warm-ups, my wool hat, insulated gloves and my cozy, warm parka. Yet, still my hands and my head are cold. I b*tch and complain while I’m shifting my warm cup of tea from hand to hand trying to warm them up. I pull the parka hood over my head AND the wool hat, bundling up like it’s -12 degrees. The fact is that its been only 30 something most days, but it feels freezing. Most days, I cut the walk short – too cold and ticked off to enjoy the morning air.
This week I’ve noticed people starting to complain on Facebook. My friend Ray started bargaining with God, “I promise I will not complain when it is 95 degrees this summer!” as he posted a pic of his beautiful wife in a swimsuit lounging in the clear gulf waters on a not so long ago summer day. Ahhhh … the warmth I felt when I saw that. Yes, Ray, I won’t complain either. I promise. Just give me some of that heat … just a burst. I’ll even take a mosquito or two. My work friend Rhonda came over to tell me it was snowing on Thursday. Usually in the south the sighting of snow is a celebration, but we all groaned. “OMG … close the bridges. Let’s go home,” we joked. But, none of us really felt like laughing. We had a 3 day work week and then a 2 day work week. The long 5 day week we just experienced felt like 6 months after spending so much time holed up, trapped because the roads were closed. Teachers are complaining about the number of days they have to make up now because of the winter closures. It’s time to end this stuff.
After I’d been off two days of work last week and trapped in my house because of the ice that impaired the roads here I got an unexpected third day off. I couldn’t take another day of my house. I’d already gotten dressed for work and drove into the parking lot before I realized we were closed. I decided to drive to my parents place farther south. It was warmer, and I walked my dog and let her run in the sunshine. I stumbled upon a cluster of yellow flowers in full bloom. I was shocked. After all of that cold and ice, the flowers still bloomed. I looked up the gravel road by the pond, and it was lined in pretty yellow flowers. This is an odd place to be in winter. It seems as if the land won’t accept winter. It can happen, but the plants and the flowers buck up and shake their fist at it. It’s just not acceptable here to be cold.
I just checked the weather in my old hometown of Chesterton IN. It’s 16 right now, and the highest temp they will have in the next 10 days is 34. That’s the HIGH! And, of course, it’s snowing. We’re supposed to get to 61 today. I can’t wait. Our high will swell to 66 in the next 10 days .. not even cold compared to the highs in Chesterton. But, I still long for that 80 degree weather that I thought I’d be getting on a regular basis even in the winter. It was 90 degrees at the gumbo cook-off in January 2013 in Watson. I remember sweating in my short skirt and tank top. I wore my cowboy boots for style, but I regretted it, longing for the cool breeze of open-toed sandals. This year, we froze. I packed hot chocolate, toe and hand warmers and dressed in three layers. Still I was cold. I just can’t seem to get warm. My house is not very well insulated. It’s old, and the issue down here is usually heat not cold. Running would help if I could do that. I could get some body heat going from the inside. But, my injury won’t allow it. It’s frustrating.
Today, I took my dog to the vet, and, even though it’s not really that cold temperature-wise, I am freezing. I got back, and I was so cold that all I could think about was crawling back into my bed in my turtleneck and long johns under Momma’s quilt and sleeping. It was 10:30. I did. I slid all the way up under the covers. I had a warming mix of essential oils applied to my hip to help soothe my bursitis, and I ducked under the quilt, head and all. It smelled like I was in some kind of spicy hot oven. I slept totally under the covers along with my cats. I shut the cold out for an hour or so. Then I got up and fixed some bean and greens soup with a lot of hot sauce and avocado oil and a cup of spicy chai tea. I feel warmer. But, I’m still not satisfied. This wasn’t the deal I made. Outside my living room window, a pink camellia bush blooms as if to tell Ole Man Winter what he can do with himself. I’ve said before that it is so cool that there are flowers blooming in January here. Well, it seems they are blooming in February, too. Take that, Old Man Winter. You are not welcome here. Go back up north where you belong.