Some folks ask what good summer is without the cold of winter to give it sweetness. Now I am all for variety; however a nice balance has always been my choice. In Canada there is no balance. We have two seasons: July and winter. This is why my husband and I are here. Although variety is also limited in the Caribbean with two seasons, at least the choice is nice: hot or not as hot.
Besides freezing various parts of one’s body, northern winters pose some interesting vehicular problems, like defrosting the car, scraping the windshield and staying on roads in blizzards without sliding into ditches. Ah, those were the days.
When the kids were growing up, although winter did pose a few risks, it also had a positive side for them: The whole world became a playground where the kids could go sledding or fly through the air and land in the soft snow.
Of course, the kids had to dress for the cold and getting them ready for the great outdoors in winter went something like this:
First, I lined them up in the kitchen, looked them sternly in the eyes and asked, “Does anyone have to go pee?”
Such was their eagerness to get out of the house and play that the answer to the question, asked several times, was invariably a negative one.
Next, I found the clothes. Winter dress was a mix-and-match communal affair. There was a good selection of snow pants, jackets, mittens, hats, scarves and boots, so that when something was missing, a spare was available.
One of the body’s physiological responses to cold is a phenomenon called cold diuresis. I looked it up. It involves extra urine production in the kidneys as part of the body’s homeostatic maintenance of fluid balance. Apparently this is the body’s response for self-preservation involving vasoconstriction.
It usually takes from one to five minutes for the warmth of the to house wear off and the freezing air to hit the face and lungs before at least one of the gang yelled “I gotta go peeeeeee!” Then it was back to the house and off with the snow pants, jacket, scarf, hat, mittens and boots. After the job was done, those aforementioned items were thawed and soggy. The decision process was then as follows: a) Is there a dry spare outfit? If not then b) Do I put up with the crying when the child couldn’t go back outside with their siblings? If not then c) Put the soggy snow pants, jacket, scarf, hat, mittens and boots back on and deal with prying the kid out of that frozen block of winter clothing when he or she came back inside.
The best part of the fresh, frigid outdoors was the warm indoors when that frisky little gang got the hot chocolate and cookies that I put out for them. They got the goodies, I got to hang up the jackets, snow pants, mittens … I think that I miss the thought of winter more than winter itself.
Faye Lippitt is the author of “16 Chickens on a Trampoline” and the children’s book, “The Great Caribbean Chicken Caper.”