Thursday, 5 December 2013

How to Love the Cold

The cold is here in the north of our now topsy-turvy world. How is it hitting you? We have frost ahoy outside in the mornings and it is so beautiful to see the dawn lifting her tinkering icy skirts. And yet I have many friends and family who shrink from this season, who fail to see its distinct pleasures and delights.

Buy a moose hat
You might ask how a skinny person such as yours truly, born in a sub-tropical climate, who spent 15 years in tropical East and West Africa, who spent her fourth pregnancy (electricity cuts and there was no AC anyway) lying mostly on the cool tiles of the floor, who was once seen frozen with bare ankles in the coldest winter known to Paris ('85), and who used to beg to stay in the car, with the heating on dammit!, whenever she was dragged to the friggin' Dolomites...can speak positively about this even crueller season.

Well, what happened sista? How did you of all people come to love the cold?

It's been a long hard ride and now I will share my secret tips. These range from walking with bare feet in the snow to - of course - succumbing to the sales. And also involve mulled wine and mulled wine.

These are suggestions that work:

1. Walk tall. One of my BFFs, an ex-ballerina, told me not to hunch to keep warm. She said, Throw your shoulders back and straighten your spine. It's so true. Hunching means your impoverished circulation will never warm your extremities. Walk the walk, preferably in a pair of beautiful, double-soled boots (*see ahead*)

2. Turn your heating down. Or off. At least twice a year I forget to top up the gas tank outside, or it's a public holiday, or a bill hasn't been paid, so our cold stone house drops to 7 or 8 or 9 degrees inside. What to do? Get used to it. Pile on layers. Enjoy your hats one by one. One time I polished all of my 1930s plantation furniture from Togo. Of course I'm not suggesting we all live in iceboxes but it is possible to do with so much less. Before renovations, there was barely any heating in this house, and it was tough but we survived. Read the passage in Silas Marner where the mother freezes in the snow, try to imagine the rags she was wearing, and you will feel hot where you are sitting.

3. If you don't believe *2*, try removing your shoes and running in circles in your yard or local park in the snow. I promise this will make you a better, fun-lovin' person who laughs at the cold.

4. Get half-naked and go to pool. Friends shiver when I say this and - silly people! - I saw a wetsuit for sale at my local pool today. The temperature is the same as it was before you ninnies! It's only coldish for the first three laps and then, by degrees, you warm yourself from your very core. This is a lingering, enrichening warmth which is almost as good as, well, lingering with your precious one, who may not always be on call.

5. Clean your rafters. I say this because I vacuumed mine this week, in a fit of I-don't-know-what, probably because I was locked between stories. How the layers of clothes and scarves and beanies came off!

Fall in love with a mountain (this one's mine & I climbed it)
6. I learned to ski as an adult and made a conscious decision to try to understand mountain people, mountain hardship, mountain car (bloddy) problems, mountain sports. In the first years there was one older gent who skied in a pair of boxer shorts. That's it. Ski boots on bare legs. It was said he had a disease and could not wear cloth against his skin. He wore sunglasses and lots of suncream, and looked very odd sitting outside lodges with everybody else in their mitts and goggles and cool jackets. Can you imagine? This man helped me feel warmer, much warmer.
I also advise mulled wine. Lots of mulled wine. In every ski lodge you should have mulled wine. And if there is no mountain or ski lodge nearby that's no excuse. Google the recipe! Red wine-brown sugar-cloves-cinnamon-orange peel in a pan. Go for it! It will make you a better winter person.

7. Next trick: if you are writer, then write about hot places. How I love doing this!! And if you are a devoted reader, then cast your eyes over literature from stinking hot places. It truly works. Egypt! Australia! Nigeria!

8. Come January, come the sales. That means boots. Although as you know I have already purchased these to help with my work. My writing work. My showing-up-stylish-for-readings-work.


**HOT NEWS** I'll be reading from my short story collection at the FREE Word Factory Christmas Party at The Society Club Bookshop and Cafe in Soho, London on December 14th, if you'd care to join us do book your place as the stylish venue is quite small. Wine and stories and wonderful company! Cannot wait for this!

18 comments:

  1. A joy as ever Cat and also have strightened my spine as it's unseasonably cold here in Sydney - bloody cold in fact for this time of year. Had to drag the winter woolies out again - boots and all! Keep warm and keep laughing F xx

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    1. Well I'll always keep laughing. At least it's sunny and frozen here. And as we all say, Boots Exist. Gosh how flighty! Hope you're not in those woollens for long! Wish I was coming down this season grrr Xcat

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  2. Oh, must go and curl up with my head in the freezer, then, to get cool here in NZ!

    Hoping your wonderful news can keep you warm, too!

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    1. Oh I wish you were coming girl! It's around the corner from where we had lunch! Don't overdo the freezer thang - bad for your hair!! Xxcat

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  3. It is freezing here in Bagni di Lucca. It was still zero at 10.00am this morning and everything is white with frost. I love it! We have blue sky and sunshine and it is gorgeous. I am happy now that I have the electricity restored to our mountain house after it was knocked out by a storm 6 weeks ago...hooray.

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    1. Yes I read you had electricity problems up there! How awful! Hope pipes didn't freeze. I have a feeling this winter it's going to be VERY cold in Italy so let's rug up!!

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  4. When I was young I could have worshiped the sun and hated the cold. As I age I like the cold more and more. I have never lived in real cold so cannot speak from experience but I do know that I now prefer cold to hot. Wishing you a great time in London, it sounds awesome Lyn

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    1. I'm undecided between hot and cold. Still! I'm happy to get used to both I think. And where we live has extreme summers and very frosty winters. I guess I don't have a lot of choice! Thanks I think London will be great. Bit jittery but thrilled to taking part.

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  5. I will straighten my spine, but without a swimming pool nearby I will have to get my lingering, enriching warmth from a man. I wonder why their big bodies run so much hotter...

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    1. I dunno but they are like an emergency furnace - the best thing for stone cold feet. Walk tall Averil, you writer you xx

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  6. "Weather-wise..it's such a lovely day"...here in London..mild & bright as a new pin! England hardly gets cold enough to wear 'ski-stuff' but some posy people do! Why are the English so bad at wearing skiing clothes? Discuss. I love cold,wintry days...reminds me of school rugby matches when my hands would be kept moderately warm inside my shorts! (nothing much inside them in those temperatures!)...or tucked-up inside the sleeves of the 2 thick shirts we wore (two layers!). At the end of games,hands would be too frozen to untie the boot laces for at least 10 minutes!
    I'm immune to the cold after working on the top of London sight-seeing buses in January....crossing over Waterloo Bridge with the icy blasts from Siberia whipping in from the East,when my mouth & lips were numb with it! (blessed relief for the passengers...most downstairs...except for the Scandies; "It is much colder in Oslo!".

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    1. I think English kids are quite cool on the slopes. They wear T-shirts and jackets flying open. Whereas Italian kids are layered in spools of clothing and often have their ski boots put on and taken off! So many spoilt kids.

      I love the dry cold of the mountains. But the Siberian wind you get here? No way !

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  7. Loved your tips Catherine.. especially the mulled wine. : ) We've lost you to skiing, I see. We'll see you in (warm) Rome when the snow starts to melt. Happy skiing!

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    1. I know! But my intentions were good I promise. I've also thrown myself into new stories too lately - skiing can wait. I'll be down there soonest!

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  8. Hmmm I'll go the mulled wine and even turn down the heating and do more housework but bare feet in the snow.....Never!!
    Sam was swimming with Luca in the river right up until it started to become impossible to reach. I'm loving all the differences and getting the chance to rug up and pull out my boots xx

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    1. I'm sure it's freezing where you are! My heating is low and I dress like a Sherpa to write. Have to warm up my hands to play the piano. Can't work out if I'm a masochist or just used to it.

      Snow between the toes is a good feeling I promise! Xx

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  9. Where are my comments going? I've rewritten mine three times and it keeps disappearing!

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    1. Oh, so now it shows up. Of course.

      My original was to the effect of: I would add one more point, which is "bake many many self-saucing chocolate puddings, apple rhubarb crumbles, and beef stews in a brightly-coloured Dutch oven".

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