I’ve been told that allergies can be acquired at any point in life. If that’s the case, then I am definitely allergic to winter.
You have to understand. I grew up in New England. I spent my childhood winters frolicking in the snow. I even carried that well into adulthood. I enjoyed snowball fights, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, coasting and pretty much everything but driving in the stuff, although I learned how to do that pretty well, too.
Cold never bothered me all that much either. I just donned more layers of clothing and stepped out regardless of the temperatures outdoors. Getting cozy with a hot cup of tea, a book and a crackling fire was pretty sweet, almost as sweet as curling up under a mountain of quilts, down comforters and flannel sheets.
But something happened to me along the way. Looking back on it now, I have to guess it was my decision to join the Peace Corps in 2002. They sent me to the South Pacific where my initial reaction was “Good God it’s hot here!” But over the two years I spent working and playing there, my body must have adapted. It was probably a good thing that I arrived home again in May. I had the summer, however short it is in the state of Maine, to adjust back to my former self before the ground froze solid and the wind chill sucked all the mercury out of my thermometer.
I think the first hint that I might no longer have what it took to live through a northeast winter might have been after I adopted a new dog. First thing every morning and then again when I returned from work, he needed to be walked, and as he sniffed and moseyed his way along, the artic chill would shove its unwelcome fingers down my neck until my muscles were so tense they would begin to cramp.
The other thing that I always thought picturesque and cozy was the return to standard time. Driving home in the dark with lights glowing from homes along the way seemed to make nighttime feel friendlier somehow. But after my return from the South Pacific where the winter days and summer days had been very similar in length, the ever-shrinking daylight hours grew more and more depressing. Not only was it dark when I drove home, it was dark when I got up to go to work in morning, as well. After two years of learning first hand what cabin fever was all about, I escaped for a vacation in St Augustine Florida when an endless March stretched ahead of me and my home was still held fast in winter and would remain so until sometime in May if I was lucky. The rest is history.
I’ve lived here in St Augustine for six years now and never looked back. I could write several blogs about my new hometown, but they can wait. For now, I’ve discovered I’m allergic to winter. At the first reminder that we would be turning our clocks back, I began to whine and dread the loss of evenings filled with enough light for a walk on the beach. Then came this blast of cold that moved in over the weekend. My nose began to itch and the sneezing fits started. Next came the endless dripping like a leaky faucet. It got worse today when I had to wear a sweatshirt to walk the dog and put shoes on my feet. Then the photos began appearing on Facebook. Photos of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Mass having snow removed before the Patriots game began and highways covered with snow from the midwest to Maine. I shivered and sneezed and dug out a new box of tissues. This has to stop. It’s only November.
My daughter suggested that it might be something in my air ducts considering I’d turned the heat on, but those are the same ducts that convey cool air when the AC is on so I don’t think that’s my problem. Perhaps something growing outside? But that’s unlikely considering that St Augustine is not tropical and we do have a winter here when trees and grasses do not bloom and spread pollen everywhere. Next will come a scarf, my wooly hat and a jacket. So, the only logical conclusion I can draw is that I have grown allergic to winter. I don’t recall having this problem in the South Pacific so now I’m wondering . . . maybe I’ll have to consider moving to the Keys . . .
P.S. I still know how to drive in snow, it’s the idiots who think 4-wheel drive means they can stop as quickly as they get going that scare the crap out of me now.