Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How did this happen to me?



Half of my genetic make-up is essentially Aztec. The other half is a mixture of Welsh, Irish, French, and some Humphreys who came over on the Mayflower. But as far as I can tell, my DNA does not hail from anywhere above the Arctic Circle. So I'm perplexed.


In my teens, I lathered myself with baby oil, napped on the beach in Galveston, and just loved that tingly feel of a skin burn. And if the temperature in Houston ever dropped below 70 degrees, I nearly froze.



Moving to Minnesota was a seismic shock to my inner thermostat. I was told I should "layer" to stay warm. And I did. Layer upon layer upon layer of cotton. I'm not sure I even knew what wool was, let alone polar fleece. 



When I wintered in an interior, windowless office not long after moving here, I became melancholia personified. And it wasn't till I read an article about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that I got a clue that just maybe the lack of sunlight had a little something to do with feeling so blue.


My poor youngest child, who didn't seem to be at all troubled by shifting levels of light, took up the mantle of holiday spirit. He'd nag nag nag till we got a tree. And soon after, I'd come home from work to discover a sweet-smelling fully decorated evergreen, and stockings even hung hung by fireplace. Bless his soul!


Even after I discovered silk long underwear, gloves with Thinsulate, SmartWool socks, jackets stuffed with down feathers, and shearling boots, I was so cold my doctor put me through a series of tests to see why I couldn't warm up. Diagnosis: not enough body fat. Right. (She's very kind, that one, because that isn't at all true.) Mr. B likes to tell stories of how I went to bed with my coat, mittens, and a knit cap on. (Yes, it's a good thing we already had all three kids!)


So I'm the first to admit how puzzling it is that genuinely I love winter. 


Yep, it's true.
I love short days and long nights.


I love blizzards and snow drifts and helping people get their cars unstuck.
I love how blankets of snow on the ground soften the light on people's faces.





I love how the quality of sound changes, how clear the winter skies are, how easy it is to find Orion's belt, how warm people's hearts become when the temperatures drop. Oh, and I do love those forecasts of double-digits below zero.


I especially love northern breed dogs who spring to life in cold weather and want to run like the wind -- with me in tow. 





It's hard to imagine not working  (I am a baby boomer and a time will come when my services won't be needed) but it's north I think of when I consider retirement.
Like the Yukon or Finnish Lapland. 





And even though I crash-landed on an icy sidewalk last February and bonked my cerebellum but good, I'm still anticipating the arrival of snow
like a little kid waiting for Santa.


So there you have it.
Somewhere in my double-helix strands, there must a gene from someone who crossed the Bering Straits or herded reindeer.
And miracles do happen.






Image 1: "Pine Tree and Red House, Winter City Painting II (1924) by Lawren Harris
Image 2: Beaded painting "Braided Trail" (1998) by JoWood
Image 3: by Vincent
Image 4: by Paul+photos=moody
Image 5: "Winter Sunrise" (1960) by Rockwell Kent

41 comments:

jinksy said...

I loved all your illustrations for this post. As for Winter, I'd give you my share of it any day! Brrrr !

♥ Braja said...

Same thing happened to me, only the other way around; was never able to handle heat, even though I came from Australia (my genes are pure Scottish highlands, so physiognomy-wise I didn't belong in Australia). But after a couple of years in India, it changed; now I can't handle the cold at all, I get chills in my body when the weather drops, and I love the heat...

Ridiculous....
:)

J said...

Your pictures just made me feel cold. I hate snow, I hate winter, I hate the cold, the rain and the wind (ok, so I live in Britian so the last two aren't ruled out even in August). I'm convinced that somewhere along the line there was a mistake and I was actually destined for somewhere more tropical.

If you want you can have my share of snow this year too.

steven said...

kathleen - layers!!! yes i watch steven selecting more and more layers for his autumn then winter bike rides. i also see my wife slowly sliding into s.a.d. each year starting late october and not really resurfacing 'till after march break which she usually spends on a beach somewhere. i don't like intense heat but i like being warm. i loved this post for its words and the illustrations. have a lovely day. steven

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

I'm with you Kathleen. I adore winter. Your images of the season are beautiful!!

Your descriptions of winter so fit all the things I love about it. I was just thinking the other day about how it changes the quality of sound. Sometimes upon awakening I know there has been a snowfall, just by the softening of all the regular sounds.

'yes winter is a marshmallow world'

Renie Burghardt said...

Loved all the illustrations too Kathleen, but I hate winter as well. And we don't get anything nearly as cold as you do in Minnesota. Although these Ozark hills look beautiful with snow on them, snow makes life too hard! But whatever turns you on, I guess. :-)

Gail said...

Beautiful photos. I must have missed that gene. I am Irish, German, English and Cherokee so I should love the cooler clims.

Gaston Studio said...

Sounds like your hormones changed over time, as they do in all of us, and gave you the ability to love winter. Lucky you.

And I love that first painting. Stunning!

Jennifer Griffin-Wiesner said...

Okay...so that actually made me REALLY happy. Because I'm glad to know someone else who has a child who loves, loves, loves winter (that'd be Isaac) and that it can happen that a parent of such a child can also develop an appreciation. :-)

Hilary said...

I've lived in this land of four seasons all my life and winter has always been my least favourite. I have plenty of body fat yet can't get warm at night either. The one thing that has made this season more appealing to me in the last few years is my camera. Suddenly I see through new eyes. Eyes like yours. :)

Sandi McBride said...

A kindred spirit...warm in my heart, chilly in my bones and loving it...long as I have my silk long handles on...my mother gave me three pair to wear under my uniform...what a Godsend both she and they were! Loved this post...because it proves I'm not crazy lol...nor alone...
hugs
Sandi

ellen abbott said...

I'm mostly English and German, a bit of Native American perhaps but snow and ice and I do not get along. Even though my inner thermostat flipped and I went from cold natured to hot, I still do not like cold weather.

Mimi said...

I'm with you here. One of the things I love about skiing holidays is the cold and being all wrapped up warm, but also the fact that inside the buildings is toasty warm.

Rudee said...

I love winter until about mid-January. About that time, I dream of palm trees, sultry nights, beaches and figure flattering swimsuits.

One of those items in that dream is unattainable. Wonder which one it is.

Suldog said...

Yeah, the season has it's charms, doesn't it? Having lived in such climates all of my life (Boston and surroundings) I sometimes get sick of it, but I am reminded - by wonderful words like yours - of the magic of the season as I used to experience it, as a kid. Got to hang on to more of that. Thanks for reminding me!

Janie said...

I love winter and snow and skiing and watching the animals romp with cold weather friskiness. I also hate being cold myself -- but fortunately, with plenty of down and long underwear, I mostly stay warm while doing my own romping.
Perhaps more layers have solved your dilemma?

Lydia said...

My half-brothers all were born and raised in Duluth. Brrrr. I wasn't raised with them and my first visit was in the summer when I was 21. My older brother freezes every year. His car freezes. His yard freezes. His pipes don't freeze because he said they are smart enough to plow them far underground there up north. But up in the freezing cold his happiest moment each winter is taking a photo of the first snowdrift that is as tall as his roof. The latest in the year I've visited was September and it was getting cold then!
My Old Postcard Wednesday post is of the town in Finland where my grandmother came from. My grandfather was a Laplander! The half-Finn in me needs to pay a visit one day. (The remaining half: Scotch, Irish, Dutch will happily visit those roots too!)

Kathleen said...

@Jinksy: So glad you enjoyed the images! A Minnesota winter is dry, which makes it much more pleasant, though my skin my take issue with that!

Kathleen said...

@Braja: Truth be told, I couldn't handle the summers in Houston. The humidity was pretty unbearable. Is it humid in Mayapur?

Kathleen said...

@J: I suppose our genes really are quite the jumble, eh? You never know, you just might find yourself liking winter some day. Stranger things have happened! But till then, bundle up and have a nice cup of tea!

Kathleen said...

@Steven: SAD is pretty miserable. My heart goes out to your wife. Thank goodness for the "S"! I've really wanted to learn winter biking. But after bonking my head and being put out of commission for 2 months, I've learned to respect ice. So glad you enjoyed the images and words. Always nice to have a visit from you, Steven!

Kathleen said...

@Bonnie: Aw, it's pretty hard to beat waking up to the sounds and sights of fresh fallen snow! I love that: winer is a marshmallow world! I've not heard that before. Soon...

Kathleen said...

@Renie: Ha! Yes, winter turns me on indeed! I do think it makes a difference that our winters are dry (which is a little hard to explain when there's snow all around). My least favorite weather is just about anything temperature that is accompanied by humidity! Come visit us in winter sometime. I'll make sure you've got lots of layers!

Kathleen said...

@Gail: Give it time...perhaps the gene will express itself at some point! What an interesting mix you are. My Native American friends accept me as native because of my Aztec heritage (which is really Toltec). I love that!

Kathleen said...

@Jane: Ah yes, the ole change of life. Yep, that definitely helped my ability to tolerate cold. But the odd thing is I started to like this weather before the 'pause visited. Go figure!

Kathleen said...

@JGW: ooooo....so happy this made you happy! That made my day. Like I said, miracles happen :)

Kathleen said...

@Hilary: What is it about the camera lens that changes things? I could walk around with a little frame, i suppose, but I think it's the sharing part that makes it so delightful -- oh, and the preserving for posterity, too, I suppose. People told me for years that if I found a winter sport, I'd enjoy it more. And I have to admit that when I'm on a sled, I truly don't even notice the cold. I'm in a trance of dog joy + incredible scenery + speed + physical exertion. Highly recommended, especially if you like pups! Come join me sometime!

Kathleen said...

@Hilary: What is it about the camera lens that changes things? I could walk around with a little frame, i suppose, but I think it's the sharing part that makes it so delightful -- oh, and the preserving for posterity, too, I suppose. People told me for years that if I found a winter sport, I'd enjoy it more. And I have to admit that when I'm on a sled, I truly don't even notice the cold. I'm in a trance of dog joy + incredible scenery + speed + physical exertion. Highly recommended, especially if you like pups! Come join me sometime!

Kathleen said...

@Sandi: Who'd have guessed silk could make winter enjoyable?!?! Nice to know a kindred spirit! You're definitely not alone, but I can't guarantee I'm not crazy! LOL! (((return hugs))))

Kathleen said...

@Ellen: I can totally relate to your post about chilly days in Houston. Nothing, and I mean that seriously, nothing, not even 30 below and a blizzard, is as miserable as wet, windy, Houston days in winter. There just isn't any way to warm up. Thus, once again I make my case that you must come visit me in Minnesota, no matter what season!

Kathleen said...

@Mimi: Ever tried a Finnish sauna? If not, you must. It's divine!

Kathleen said...

@Rudee: Funny, I almost added a caveat that I can make it joyfully till about March, when it seems like we're encased in ice, dirty, muddy, nasty ice. But now that I have my little point and shoot, I have to see what this March will be like. I'll keep you posted.

As for the dream....hmmmm....I"m gonna go with sultry nights. Sounds awfully nice! ;^)

Kathleen said...

@Suldog: Oh yay, my inner child asked your inner child out to play! Shall we go sledding?

Kathleen said...

@Janie: I suspected you were a kindred spirit on the joys of winter romping. And have you tried a Finnish sauna?

Kathleen said...

@Lydia: w00t! I have an invitation from another blogger who lives in Finnish Lapland to help me plan a trip. I'm not sure Mr. B will go. So I'll let you know if I get my act together to go. In the meantime, there are some wonderful Finns in and around Duluth. Are you familiar with the term Sisu? And definitely let me know if you come to visit your brother! I've got 3 weeks in a timeshare cabin 45 minutes from Duluth, and I'm always looking for an excuse to go!

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

Wonderful! But I'm still a spring/fall gal. Just visiting Nebraska, I was reminded of how nice it is to have warmth here in Texas. ♥

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I fell on my bum last year, too and it made no difference! I adore the cold and the snow!! That's why I dream of Scotland.

Sarah Jane said...

hee hee hee, I like that you think that you might be part reindeer. that must be it :)

Kathleen said...

@Boomer: Oh, my, Nebraska has nothing to break the wind. Now that is chilly!

Kathleen said...

@Pamela&Edward: Ouch. I'm sorry to hear you fell last winter, too. Hope there were no long-lasting effects! And glad it didn't spoil your love for winter! Do you find it more appealing to knit in winter? Mr. B took up knitting one year, but put his needles away when the weather turned warm. I was sorry to see that happened. He looked very content knitting!

Kathleen said...

@Sarah Jane: I'll have to find my antlers and wear them to breakfast Sunday!;^D

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