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Posts Tagged ‘temperature’

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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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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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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The other day, my roommate made an apple crisp. Eva was celebrating an overabundant apple harvest and my mouth was just starting to water in olfactory anticipation when she walked into the living room.

“Ummmm,” she said, “the stove won’t turn off.”

Cue: a week-long battle with the stove and the gas company. So when I walked into the house one cold evening and smelled burning fuel, I expected the worst. Maybe the oven had finally imploded.

Instead, it turned out that my roommates had decided to make the leap and turn on the heat for the first time this year.

Turning on the heat is a big step. There’s an environmental aspect, of course, and a financial one too: heat is expensive in more ways than one. But for me, the most difficult part is the commitment to winter. Turning on the heat says: there will be no more surprise seventy degree days. Summer’s long over, and Indian Summer is too. Once the heat is on, there’s no denying that – oh god – the cold is here to stay.

(Interestingly, Wikipedia says that Indian Summer can last until mid-November. So maybe there is hope, after all.)

The other thing about turning on the heat is that it tends to bring a bizarre side effect. Every year when the heat goes on, I start to get these intense and realistic dreams. The dreams can linger as long as a month, and I always wake up feeling distraught. In one dream this week, my mother told me to abandon my career in favor of an (imaginary) job in public policy. In another nightmarish sequence, I spent what felt like hours pursuing the perfect pair of gloves in a labyrinthine box store.

Just like in real life, I never did find what I was looking for. And the stove? Sitting, unplugged, in the middle of our kitchen.

Weather: Sunny and just past the foliage peak. 45 degrees.

Mood:
Hannah – 6 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “Jumping for Joy” scale. Really tired of eating microwavable dinners.

Anna – 5 out of 10 for general life stress. Ask her about her erg.

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