Wednesday, 1 December 2010
As regular readers will know, I'm a summer person. A hothouse flower, as an old lady I once worked with called me. I get annoyed when people moan that it's too hot; if it's too hot to work, I say, it's not the heat that's the problem. I've always approached winter with fear and loathing, felt threatened and oppressed by the cold and the wind.
But I have changed my mind. Last weekend's boating has been a revelation to me. OK, the weather was ideal, winter at its very best - but it was cold, and snowing, and that wasn't a problem (well, not for me personally. It was admittedly a bit of an issue navigation-wise). I have now come to the conclusion that if it's too cold to get to work, too snowy for the trains to run - it's not the cold and the snow that's the problem. It's our attitude and the attitude of the world that says we have to get to work at all costs, and the view that we should really just be able to get on with our lives without giving much thought to the weather. If that was ever true, it seems increasingly less so.
So it seems I am ready to embrace the winter as wholeheartedly as I do the summer. But here's the rub. You can only really enjoy - even survive - the winter if you dress for it; six or seven layers, thermals, thick socks, boots. And the fact that buildings are all centrally heated means that immediately you go indoors, you're miles too hot, red, sweating and extremely uncomfortable. OK, you can take off the top few layers, but not the thermal vests, still less the leggings (particularly if you're at work). So basically you have to make a choice: dress for indoors or outdoors, but you can't have both. Which is why winter still finds us trapped indoors, and why the boating felt so liberating - for once I was a cold weather person, ready to take it all on (though the cabin was relatively warmer, with the stove going, it can't have been anything like as warm as a house as I never took off more than a couple of outside layers). But it's not worth getting undressed and dressed again every time we want to go out, so we end up shivering and suffering as before, or just staying put. And what I've realised now is just how much we're missing by cowering indoors by the fire.