Where Is the Winter I So Love?

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I still think of school starting after Labor Day, even though that has not been the case for decades now. When September rolls around I begin to imagine cold days ahead that will mitigate the heat of summer. I much prefer lower temperatures that seem to make everything cozier. While I love the ocean, I prefer walking along its shores in a sweater with an cool breeze nipping at my nose. Perhaps it is my birth month of November that makes me fond of the colder times of the year, or maybe it’s just a personal, quirk. It may even be that the mild winters where I live are more comforting to me than the harsh heat of summer. I am more than ready to see the mercury drop in my thermometer. 

I like starting a fire in my fireplace and wearing my favorite sweaters that never seem to wear out. Nothing soothes me more than reading while sipping on a warm mug of tea. I enjoy wrapping myself in a soft and cuddly blanket and wearing slipper socks on my feet. I prefer long walks that invigorate me without making me sweat and gasp for air like in the summer. 

I read that my part of the world will become hotter and hotter as we humans add to the changes of climate. I’ve already noticed that it takes longer and longer to reach the cold days that I so love. There have been times when shorts were more suitable for comfort on Christmas day than a crazy sweater. My boots seem to last forever because there are so few days when it is cool enough to wear them. There seem to be fewer and fewer wintry days with each passing year. 

Those of us who prefer cold winter days tend to be in the minority. Most people revel in the sunny summertime. They love the warmth on their arms and the freedom of wearing skimpy clothing and playing outdoors. Those are the months when I feel sweaty and miserable. I spend most of my time indoors because when I go outside the air feels oppressive. I long for the cold when brisk walks energize me. I seem to come alive in the late fall and winter.

I have a friend who craves chilly rainy days and I have to admit to feeling the same. People laugh at his obsession with weather that others consider to be dreary while I understand his joy in such moments. Perhaps both of us would change our minds if we had to endure a harsh winter in upstate New York or on the plains of North Dakota, but down here in the south of Texas we rarely feel a chill in the air. 

One year I traveled to Minnesota in November. It was already much colder than the worst of our winters along the Gulf Coast. I needed a warm coat to wear for an upcoming trip to an Austrian ski town. A friend suggested that I check out the stores where we were. We set off in search of a suitable jacket and soon found a display of sale items that suited my needs. I found a wonderful down coat with a fur-lined hood and immediately claimed it as my own. As I was paying the cashier she remarked that I was getting a great deal on the piece that I had chosen. She noted that the annual sale of spring outerwear was always a hit with the customers who put such finds away for when the winter became a bit more bearable. It amazed me that there was actually a place on earth where such a heavy garment might be donned in the month of April when those of us down south are already well into wearing our summer gear. It occurred to me that I may not enjoy winter nearly as much in a place where it seems to last as long as our warm months do down here.

I haven’t had many occasions to wear that big coat that I purchased in Minnesota, but it sure came in handy when we had the big Texas freeze a couple of winters ago. The so called rolling blackouts of the power companies stretched into days of frigid temperatures inside the house. I wore that down jacket all day long as I shivered in my rooms. I found myself thinking of that episode of Little House on the Prairie when Pa was away and Ma had to deal with a deadly blizzard. it wasn’t quite that bad, but most of us down in the south aren’t really accustomed to sustained days of freezing. Even our plants and pets suffered during that time.

Perhaps what I really like is weather that is not too hot, not too cold, but just right. Sadly these days everything seems to be extreme. We either endure weeks of temperatures in the high nineties with no sign of rain or our streets are inundated. As we crisscross the world there are fires and famine or floods and destruction. We can’t seem to return to the gentle rolling of the seasons that I remember so well from my childhood. 

I used to rearrange my closet each September. I would move my summer gear to the back and place my fall and winter garments near the front. Now I don’t even bother because I rarely need to use the winter items. I miss the crisp cool fronts that rolled in each October making our classrooms without air conditioning bearable. Now it’s a good bet that we’ll still be sweating on Halloween. 

I’ve had to learn to adjust to the fact that I won’t see much winter like in the days of my youth. I’ll take whatever cooler times I can get. I often think of walking to school with the cold nipping at my nose. I’d push against the wintry air feeling invigorated, but I was always more than willing to accept a ride with my friend Judy when she and her mother stopped to take me the rest of the way on such days. There was something more normal about those times than what we all seem to experience now. 

I don’t know what the future will bring. I worry that my flat city will one day find itself under water as the earth continues to heat up and the oceans rise. I wonder if my grandchildren and great grandchildren will have to relocate much like the migratory societies of old. Where will there be a good place to go?  Will my old coat from Minnesota suddenly become a great way to stay warm in the spring as they travel north? Who knows?  I keep wondering where the winters that I so love have gone.