They say it's going to be a cold winter this year. I became a bit worried over the summer when I realized it just didn't get as hot as it usually does. A mild summer usually means a cold winter. I suppose a cold winter is a given in some places. I, however, live in Virginia. When it comes to weather, the only thing that's a given in Virginia is that July and August will be hot and humid. Everything else is a toss up.
In the summer, I manage to forget the toll winter takes on me. I grow accustomed to feeling comfortably warm when I leave my house each morning. I don't have to plan my wardrobe around the official weather report; short sleeves and open toed shoes are good every day of the week. Yes, it gets hot outside - sometimes unbearably so - but I'm hardly ever forced to be outside against my will. If it gets too hot I simply go inside. It only takes a few minutes to cool down sitting in an air conditioned room. And I adore the long days. The sun begins to rise on my way to work and when I come home there are still hours of daylight remaining.
The first thing I notice as winter approaches is the days getting shorter. It's gradual at first. Then, Daylight Savings Time ends and suddenly the days aren't long enough. Tonight when I leave the gym it will be dark outside for the first time in a long time. That's when it seems official to me - summer is gone.
Usually the temperature change creeps up on you too. In Virginia, it is not unusual to have 70 and 75 degree days through the middle of November. We've even been known to have an occasional 80 degree day in December. This year has been different though. The colder temperatures raced in without warning, sweeping away the warm summer days in an instant. This is yet another sign that this winter will be a cold one.
What is it about winter that affects me so? At least I don't live somewhere like Norway or Alaska, where months pass without sunshine. First, it's the cold. My body betrays me when it's cold outside. My skin becomes red and irritated. Eventually, it starts to crack. My poor hands ends up bleeding several times a day by the time it starts to get warmer. I wear gloves when I go outside, but still my hands crack and bleed. They itch and they hurt. While I prefer warm weather to cold, I am no fan of being hot. I sweat a lot when the temperature rises. But cooling down when overheated is much easier than warming up when I get too cold. Some cold water on my face and a few minutes in front of the fan cools me down pretty effectively. Something about cold though...I've heard people say it gets into your bones. I don't know if that's true but it certainly feels like it. When I get cold, it takes forever to get warm again. I can spend ten minutes in a hot bath shivering before I start to feel even a little bit warm. I can bury myself beneath a mound of blankets - give me fifteen or twenty minutes and I'll start to warm up. (But then I have to stay under the blankets to stay warm). And in the car...I have a particular problem with that. I blast the heat to stop shivering. Unfortunately, the heat on my face (or even on my feet) is so pleasant I start to get drowsy. I turn the heat off until I start to get cold again; I turn it back on and I start to get drowsy. Off on, off on, warm cold, warm cold...I hate it.
So the cold is one thing. The other is darkness. I get excited after the winter solstice because the days start to get longer. By January, I start checking the Weather Channel website to see what time the sun sets. Each day it sets about a minute later than the day before. I eagerly anticipate the long, warm summer days.
I will challenge myself to find things to embrace about the winter months this year. It's better than sulking, anyway.