On Winter

I grew up and now live in the South. It’s the northern edge of the South, but Southern nonetheless. I have, for virtually my entire life, loathed hot weather. I hated Summer with every fiber of my being (other than the being out of school part, when I was younger). I hated the heat, I hated humidity, I hated being hot, I hated sweating. Hated. With a capital “H” Hated. September was always the longest tease before Fall actually arrived in October. I conveniently forgot that two-thirds of September is still officially Summer.

I always preferred Winter. I liked the sparse landscapes and the cloudy, windy cold days. I loved snow — as does every school-age kid and teacher. I remember reading about dogsledding and fighting through snowdrifts that towered over my head. The snow of the century in Arkansas was about twenty inches, and I’m not THAT short. Winter meant comfort, except in the few coldest weeks. In recent years, since I’ve started getting outside more, I’ve enjoyed the benefits of Winter: less-crowded trout streams, open leafless vistas on hiking trails, no bugs.

But now, after 30-odd years of living here, I find my opinions all but reversed. It’s the oddest feeling to find myself yearing for warm weather, and not dreading the hot weather to follow.

Last Winter, I hated every second of it, and for good reason: it was bitterly cold and wet. We had a post-Christmas ice storm that put our power out for roughly three days. By the time the thaw started in earnest in March, I was getting near desperate. I actually welcomed the hot weather when it arrived.

Last Summer, in the hottest time of the year, I started playing disc golf, and that got me out of the house and into the heat. Surprisingly, being out in the heat every day — for more than the made dash to another air-conditioned place — actually felt quite good. Sure, I sweated profusely, but a quick shower and a glass of water quickly fixed that. If only I had embraced that earlier in life.

Don’t get me wrong, though; I’m not a total hot-weather junkie. When the temperature hovers around 100 and the humidity isn’t far behind for days on end, I wilt just like everything else. I like my heat in small doses, but I do like it now. I supposed I still like the cold, but in small doses. It gives me a reason to build a fire in our little-used fireplace, to cook up some good soup, and to stay inside and hibernate a little.

Just as it looked like Winter was over this year, it finally dropped down to the single digits last night, and tonight is supposed to be even colder. Two days ago it was in the mid-60s — rare for the end of February, but not unheard of — and today it’s about 19F with windchills in the single digits. It’s supposed to hit five degrees above tonight. I don’t even want to think about those windchills. They say it’s supposed to warm up some by the weekend. I hope so.