Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The weather outside

I've started wearing two hats every morning: one knit, to keep out the wind; and the other fleece, to keep my head warm. This strategy, strange-looking as I'm sure it must be, is remarkably successful, which I am incredibly grateful for in these novacaine-cold mornings.

Yesterday, it snowed. I gather it must not usually snow much around here, because the newspaper claims the approximately four inches I see on the ground is a "heavy snow." It's so cold the snow isn't even very moist--it's dry and powdery like the stuff I'm used to from growing up in the desert. I walk outside this morning to a brilliant, snow-capped world, full of buttery sunlight and baby-blue shadows. If I were a painter I would stay home, commemorating the wonder of the dappled light and shadow; preserving the wonder of the world outside my window for another, warmer day. Instead, I am a student, so I pull my two hats further down over my ears and simply enjoy the wonder of a sugar-coated world.

At least, I enjoy it for a half a block.

Then the cold kicks in, and I progress from chilled to frigid to numb. I've told my husband before that it's okay for me to be slightly underdressed for my walk to school. After all, I'm walking and I warm up pretty quickly from the exertion. Novacaine cold proves the fallacy of that thought after only a few minutes of exposure. Movement keeps me from shivering, but it doesn't keep my glasses from feeling like a burning cold mass on my face, or keep my cheeks from feeling like the wind is attempting to peel frozen chunks of cracking, dehydrated skin away from my skull. It's not long before the only part of my legs that have any feeling are the muscles, which scream out against dragging along the rest of my heavy, heat-sink of a body.

Fortunately, my walk is short. More fortunately, it doesn't take long before even most of the discomfort of my exposed skin is numbed away by the cold and, slower, and with an even greater appreciation for the warmth that waits inside my building, I can go back to enjoying the crystalline beauty of the morning.

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