There are very few places on the planet where the temperature is ideal for human habitation all year long. Where is it 70-75 F degrees every day – Hawaii perhaps? For most of us, we have seasons where we must adapt to times of extreme cold or heat. So you pick your poison, so to speak, depending on where you choose to live.
Living all my life in New England, I guess you could say that I have ‘adapted’ to cold winters and the occasional heat wave in summer. Although humans have used fire for eons to stay warm, it is only with the introduction of central heating and cooling, that human population has expanded to many places that were uninhabitable except for a hardy few. As long as our exposure to the elements is buffered, we can put up with periods of extreme temperatures.
Last night the windchill was in the minus 20s F. I was so grateful to have a warm house, made all the more toasty by a wood stove, and a warm bed to snuggle into as the wind buffeted the windows.
When I do go outside, it takes several minutes to ‘suit up.’ Heavy, felt-lined boots are essential as far as I am concerned. Cold feet, hands or head spell major discomfort. Thick scarf doubled around my neck, two layers of mittens, down coat to below the knees and wool hat and I am good to go. If the snow is deeper than a foot, I strap on gaiters to protect my lower legs from the snow that will cling and melt, making my pants freezing cold. If the conditions are icy and dangerous for walking, I strap ice grippers, a combo of coiled wire and flexible rubber, to the bottoms of my boots to assist me in staying on my feet. I’ll never win a fashion contest, but I’ll choose comfort over looks any day.
Some days it feels like too much to do just to get out the door, but what is the alternative? Stay inside all winter? Not a chance! Occasionally, I long for the ease of walking straight outside free of the trappings, but I do that for half the year and that time will come again soon enough.
I often think of folks that live in colder places and wonder at their stoic capacity to deal with negative double digits F where your breath freezes in your nostrils! I’ve seen a video from Alaska where a cup of steaming coffee thrown into the air freezes before it hits the ground. It may get cold here, but never like that, thank you!
On the flip side is extreme heat – the American Southwest in summer for example – 113 degrees F day after day – oh, ouch on that! Or the discomfort of heavy humidity in the Southeastern US. How do they do it, I wonder? You adapt to your surroundings. We all do or we move.
So even though I may dream about life in a warmer climate that doesn’t involve shoveling snow or dealing with freezing rain, I am adapted to New England and will put up with a bit of seasonal discomfort in order to experience all that the four seasons have to offer in their elemental variety.