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