I have this recurring hum in my ears from my polar past. It was a result of living in Michigan with yearly global storming. Sounds of a snow blower screeching in the dead of night sounded like a shuttle liftoff. It was just another thing affecting my SAD (seasonal affective disorder), and one more reason to live in a sub tropical climate. Some like it hot, some like temps controlled, and a blow torch could truly warm some spots if I was nine days cold.
Midwestern meteorologists like using the word COLD when describing wintry chilliness since they can’t swear on national television. Every day I waited for a more positive prediction. Since I also waited for my raised thermostat to deliver a heatwave, I knew my future would include palm trees and year round warmth. You would have thought I’d been stricken with Tourette syndrome the way I shivered. Three hot baths a day and flaming fireplaces were the only things generating enough heat to keep my organs functioning. It was common for me to say, “C’mon baby light my fire.” It was never about a romantic interlude. I’d give a thunderous applause to anyone who was holding matches.
I spent an enormous amount of time in thermal wear under down blankets with a heating pad, and burned enough firewood to have the Forest Coalition fretting. Outdoor activities were unlikely, since I never felt any warmth when I was hit with icy snowballs. I amused myself by watching tons of Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe movies. If I did go outside for some sun exposure, it was mostly cloudy with another chance of a freaking frostbite. You never saw skirts teamed with bums showing. I myself became shockingly picky with fashions, and could have been the poster girl for caribou clothing. Like an Eskimo, I too was a hunter and gatherer. I gathered warm brews and hunted hotter climates.
Whenever I met someone, I shook hands and said, ”cold hands, warm heart.” Brain freeze wasn’t about eating ice cream, and I wondered if hypothermia could deaden my heart. Taking my clothes off could truly stiffen a girl. Riding a snowmobile can sometimes be more effective than driving a car…if you like Pina Coladas and trying to outrace a train. But I was more inclined to stay next to a bed of burning wood sipping Schnapps in hot cocoas. Chills led to colds and flu’s. And with it spreading like wildfire in our household, people wondered why our place always needed to be tented for bugs. Though summers were sizzlers if you like humidity and breathing midsummer nights steam. I must say that in Michigan, Hell really does freeze over. I was sure I didn’t want to retire in the proximity of Corpse Pond, but I’m sure most guys would favor Jugville. Knowing my need to be warm blooded, I’ll most likely be one of those senior citizens that has my heat hiked to a temperature that coincides with my age, which will make me a crispy camper.
My home state has an abundance of gorgeous golf courses and lakes, if you favor putting in a bear hide and power boating diagonally to avoid icebergs. With ongoing problematic chapped hands and feet, mine always looked as though they were scrubbed with coarse sandpaper. I slept in Uggs with heated insoles, and I could have been related to Phil Spector with all the static electricity in my hair. And who needs a refrigerator when you’ve got the whole outdoors? The winter of 1932 was so cold that it froze neighboring Niagra Falls solid. And I’ve seen die hard fishermen drill through fifteen inches of ice just to sit there watching their dinner stare back as if they were going to sing Catch Me If You Can. A person could starve and freeze to death waiting for his next meal. There are plenty more fish in warmer seas. I preferred hanging out where the climate was monitored, and I wasn’t in danger of dropping into a numbing deep freeze in order to have Trout.
Dogs don’t even want to venture outside to do their duty. I’d say penguins make more suitable pets. And frozen water pipes appeared as much as the rest of the animal kingdom looking for warmth as well. So when last glacial stinging hit late one spring leaving snow banks so high I couldn’t see my neighbors, I wondered if it was going to thaw by Labor Day. And when those winter blues kicked in, I knew it was time to pack up and move to “Beverly.”
A Clampett I’m not. I didn’t pave my way west in an open jalopy enduring cross country weather changes. But it does get chilly here in Cali. I know someone who keeps a bag of snow in his freezer as a keepsake from the last mini blizzard, back in 1998. And I see the homeless hunched together when an eighty degree day can slip into a low forty with nightfall. They tend to keep heated with whatever will warm their innards. Mostly Old Crow, if they can get their algid hands on some. I wonder how they sleep when semis are traveling at warp speed directly above them whipping the wind into a squall, and there’s no money or mailing address for Lands End to send toasty fleece parkas. It’s true what Californians say during winter. “Thunderbolts and lightening, very very frightening.” Clearly they haven’t lived with whiteouts.
Residing near the film industry, I’ve noticed all the movies made about cold temperature survival. In Some Like It Hot, the characters end up fleeing frigid Chicago for Florida when keeping warm requires layers of clothing (not necessarily women’s) and a sense of humor. I imagine Marilyn Monroe got goosebumps when her dress flew up to her forehead. But I’m sure the suave Tony Curtis never got cold with all the women that were eager to keep him warm.
(View posts in the weekend editions of The Parson’s Sun newspaper in Kansas)