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Posts Tagged ‘cold’

Migration

I know it’s April and I’m supposed to be looking forward towards sunnier times. But for the last month all I’ve been thinking about is cold. I wake up, I poke my head out of the covers and I think I am so tired of being cold.

I bike to work and no matter what super-nice gear I wear, I arrive freezing. My hands burn. My toes are numb. There is a chilling sensation in the very core of my body that can take hours to thaw out.  I am so tired of being cold.

It’s partially my fault. I put my down jacket away last month and swore not to take it out again until next year. Then it snowed. But I have stubbornly insisted on wearing my spring jackets and lighter sweaters, determined not to let New England’s endless winter win out.

Did I mention that New England’s winter is endless? Even if I was still wearing my down jacket and my wool hat, I’d be unhappy. The temperature may jump up to the forties at mid-day but it is still damned cold outside. “You know,” Anna said, “The main thing I’ve learned so far from tracking my emotional calendar is that winter is horrible.”

The emotional calendar has lots of recommendations for what to do once you’ve learned you hate winter. You can wear nicer clothing. Drink hot chocolate. Watch movies that take place in the desert. Go skiing. Find ways to reframe winter in a more positive light.

That’s all well and good but I think there are more productive ways to handle bad weather. I think it’s time to take a hint from the birds and start travelling south. Maybe to the Carolinas. Georgia. Texas. New Mexico. South America. The Caribbean.

How far would you go to escape the cold?

Weather: 48 degrees and cloudy

Moods:
Hannah: 5 out of 10 on the “can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. Tired.
Anna:  7.5 out of 10. It’s friday, it’s sunny, things are starting to bloom.

**Image credit to the New York Audubon.

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Anna and I obviously both have weather on the mind today, since she posted her blog post just as I was mid-sentence on mine.

Instead of writing today, I’m going to share a clip from one of my all-time favorite films. I think this scene accurately represents how I’m feeling about March right now. Just imagine that the mother embodies “winter,” the father embodies “spring,” and the grandma is the snowclouds hovering dangerously over concord today.

Oh yeah, and I’m James Dean.

*the moment of truth is at 0:52

** sorry for the subtitles.

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Every single day, at 10:30 am, I find myself suddenly stricken with cold. My fingers against the keyboard become positively frigid. My whole body tenses up, and I start to shiver.

What’s causing this sudden temperature drop? Let’s review my morning ritual. At 8:35, I arrive at the office after a long commute and a wickedly cold trek from the train station to my office. (This morning: 15 degrees). I take off my coat and defrost over my e-mails, a hot cup of coffee, and a steaming bowl of oatmeal. The rising sun shines through the east-facing window, bathing me with passive-solar heat.

But by 10:30 am, the sun is no longer shining directly through the window. And my hot meal has become a digestive process which seems determined to suck all of the heat away from my body. In the past few weeks, I have come to the conclusion that eating doesn’t just make me tired. It also makes me cold.

I first recognized the phenomenon two weeks ago. It was 20 degrees outside and the sun was setting when I biked across Philadelphia to go to an obscure Indonesian restaurant. By the time we headed home several hours later, it had only dropped a few degrees. But as soon as I stepped outside, I started to shake uncontrollably. It took a few minutes of shivering before I was able to get onto my bike. (My date, on the other hand, said he felt warmer after the meal than before.)

Anna tells me that she experienced the same thing in Europe. Hours trekking through the icy streets in search of a good meal were fine, as long as she had her mind set on her goal (good food, asap). But trying to get home after that lovely, late-evening dinner? Horrendously cold.

The internet corroborates my digestive theory. Answers.com tells me that after you eat a meal, your body directs blood towards your internal organs as part of the digestive process. This means that you have less blood moving through your external body parts (hands, feet, skin), making you shiver. Once you’re done digesting, answers.com promises, you will feel even warmer than before because of all the nutritious food you ate.

On the other hand, answers.com also has an explanation for why some people feel warm after eating: it could be caused by rapid processing of sugars, or by heat generated through metabolic processes. My conclusion: answers.com doesn’t have a clue. And in this field, the internet is coming up cold.

So I’m sticking with anecdotal evidence, which everyone knows sounds convincing even when it’s not. Do you get cold after you eat?

Weather:

19 degrees and sunny (but it feels like 11!)

Moods:

Hannah: 5 out of 10 on the can’t get out of bed to jumping for joy scale. It’s almost time for lunch!

Anna: 4.5

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According to WBUR and a slew of other news articles, today is the coldest day Massachusetts has experienced in the past six years. Last night, meteorologists predicted wind chill temperatures of -15 to -25 degrees Fahrenheit in Boston.

Thanks to numerous weather warnings from my mother, WBZ, and strangers in the street, I piled on so many layers last night and this morning that I was actually sweating after a 15-minute walk outside. In case you’re curious about how many layers it takes to overheat in below-freezing temperatures, let me enlighten you:

  • Knit shirt
  • Wool sweater
  • Thermal leggings
  • Wool knee socks
  • Leg warmers
  • Pants
  • Snow boots
  • Wool shawl
  • Silk glove liners
  • Elbow-length knit gloves
  • Winter hat, originally bought for my January trip to Prague and Vienna
  • Knee-length down jacket (a.k.a., the sleeping bag with arms)

I may or may not resemble Randy from “A Christmas Story.”

But I’d rather look comical than become a human icicle.

Weather: 12 degrees in Boston, but it feels like -3, so layer up and stay warm!

Moods:

Anna – 6 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. Lots to do.

Hannah – She’s traveling, so no rating today.

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I don’t love winter. I don’t love the fact that, at 4:30 pm, it’s already dark out.

I don’t love Christmas carols, holiday parties make me nervous, and I prefer summer sports.

Call me crazy, but I love the cold.

One of my favorite childhood memories is of the time the power went out during a family Chanukah party. (Fortunately, we already had a fire going in the fireplace.) We woke up the next morning to mounds of snow, and the electricity was out for three days. We slept in sleeping bags in front of the fire. My parents don’t speak fondly of that week, but I loved every bit of it.

Another favorite memory is from November of 2008. I was living near a tidal river in Maine and I decided that I wanted to get in one final swim before the season was over. So I dragged my roommate out of bed at  some ungodly hour of the morning and we  stood out on the docks in our swim suits. Our towels, and enormous sweaters, were piled up beside us. The tide was a bit low, and my friend and I were afraid we wouldn’t be able to pull ourselves up once we got in. We watched the sun rise and we dithered. Then finally we jumped.

The shocking cold, and the adrenaline that comes with it, was so incredible that we practically flew back out of the water. Then we went to eat pancakes.

We are a small but intimate group, those who love the cold. We are the people who sleep with our windows open year round. We live in extreme climates and we travel to colder ones. We go polar-bearing and we camp in the snow.

It’s been a balmy 50 degrees here all weekend. Like Louisa, I am bothered by the seasonal dissonance. I’m also ready for some good old-fashioned cold.

Are you?

Weather: 50 degrees and rainy

Mood:

Hannah: 5 out of 10 on the “can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. She has a headache and it’s dark outside.

Anna: Wavering between a 6 and a 7. She had a productive day. But she over-steeped her tea.

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This just in from my favorite science blog: “snot is mostly comprised of mucous secreted by the inflamed tissues of the nose, and dead neutrophils that swarmed in kamikazi-style to gobble up whatever bacteria or virus they could find.”

Sad but true: in the past seven days the temperature has dropped from an appalling seventy degrees to an equally appalling thirty-two. With the temperature drop has come a corresponding drop in physical well-being. I spent the whole weekend sneezing (although it didn’t keep me from loving Halloween) and Anna’s voice has been reduced to a croak. Flu season has begun.

Cold & flu season is exciting because it’s an opportunity to talk about the immune system, which I studied for The Emotional Calendar and which is actually really neat. Kevin – an immunologist, science blogger, and (full disclosure) friend – explains it better than I ever could here: it’s all T-Cells and Macrophages and suicide cells and other cool stuff.

But it’s hard to get excited about immunology when it’s 3 am, your head hurts, and you can’t breathe through your nose. November is the ugliest phase of fall. The leaves are off the trees, the sky is gray, it’s cold out, and everyone is sick. October may be a good month to channel Love Story – in November it’s all about fleeces, the world’s ugliest sweater. And of course there is the heavy anticipation of impending doom – by which I mean the rapid approach of the holiday the season.

November is a good month to stay inside and focus on something small and cozy. Like cellular biology, perhaps?

Weather: cold and cloudy. 43 degrees.

Mood:
Hannah: cold and cloudy but no longer sneezing, thank you. 5 out of 10 on the “I’m so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale.
Anna: 7. She already voted and two people want to be her roommate!

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