The sun is out white hot and bright today; the sky near perfectly flawlessly clear and brilliant blue. It’s a sharp contrast to the freezing temperatures, gray overcast skies and constant onslaught of snow we’ve been experiencing for almost a week in the Northeast. But one would do well not to be fooled by this recent change in the weather, for though the skies are clear and blue and the sun is shining bright, the temperature today is a biting 21° and according to weather forecasters will not rise above 25. It’s the kind of cold that hurts your skin if you’re exposed to it for any longer than a few minutes. At first it’s pin pricks. Then a numbing swelling-like pain. And if there is ever a pickup in the wind, forget about it — t’s a physically brutal and near unbearable condition to spend any considerable amount of time in.
But unlike most, who seem to get as much of a kick out of complaining about cold weather as they do sunbathing on a sunny day in June, I have loved every minute of this Winter’s snow and freezing temperatures. For me there is something very appealing about this cold weather, considering that it’s perfectly normal for winter — I don’t see how we have a right to complain about it, let alone dislike it — as if we were somehow entitled to warmer temperatures just because we are used to getting everything we want. I find the cold and snow quite enjoyable, desirable even; comforting in a paradoxically warm and cozy way.
Clearly this attitude does not apply to everyone; some people blatantly profess out loud to dislike the cold and snowy weather of winter. (It makes one wonder why then do they choose to live in a seasonally volatile locale like New York City if they’re going to complain about it every year…) Plenty of people for generations have moved from the Midwest and the Northeast down south to warmer climates specifically for this reason. My family in fact were diehard self professed “yankees” from New York and Pennsylvania and yet because, as all people do once retired, my grandparents moved to South Florida, I was obligated to grow up there.
From the day I was born I can always remember disliking Florida; feeling like a fish out of water, an outlier. There was nothing about it except the beach that I liked or felt connected to in the least. Some people feel right at home where they grow up. It is after all for all intents and purposes “home”. But I never felt at home growing up. Rather I felt like an alien who was forced to make a pit stop in a strange and foreign and hostile land. Like an outsider. As if I were the only one, all alone in seeing how terribly wrong and ass backwards it was there. From the climate to the people it just didn’t feel right down there. I didn’t fit and everyone knew it. There are few things as upsetting to the psyche of a young mind than never feeling like you fit in somewhere when everyone around you is acting as if everything is perfectly fine.
In elementary school during what we were told was “winter” we were instructed to draw snowflakes or snowmen, as all kids are in the States. But we’d never even seen snow let alone built a snowman. During the Fall we were always asked to draw all these different colored leaves of orange and yellow and red to decorate the room — yet we’d never experienced the changing colors of Autumn. Our teachers attempted to explain to us what autumn was…or why they called it “Fall”. But the explanations fell on deaf ears. All around us were green trees 365 days out of the year. There is no Autumn in Florida. Just as there is no winter and no spring. So these were ideas that only became real to us through the movies or TV. Talk about feeling like you’re missing out…. Gloves mittens scarves winter coats galoshes hats long-johns snowmen snowball fights skiing hot cocoa warm cozy fireplaces…these were all things that seemed entirely foreign to us as children growing up in a temperate climate that never had seasons. It felt as if a very large part of growing up, of being a human on planet earth, was being withheld from us, a large piece of the collective pie of civilization was totally off limits to our experience. These were things we couldn’t even relate to, let alone know anything about. It set up a real “us and them” paradigm in our young minds to be sure. We never had White Christmases. In fact we didn’t even understand most Of the lyrics of those classic Christmas songs. Sleigh bells in the snow? What? The idea that people would deliberately ever desire to move down to Florida or the South for that matter seemed a ridiculous notion. Why on earth would anyone want to do that and give up all that fun stuff associated with the seasons that we saw on TV and in the movies?
The first time I ever felt “at home” in the world was my first visit to New York. It was a palpable change in feeling, change of state inside of me. A brand new sense of calm, ease and letting go. A great big physical and psychological sigh of relief. The first time I ever felt relaxed and not on guard in my entire life. As soon as I got into my first taxi I just immediately felt different, transformed, happy, grounded — as if some invisible force was whispering into my ear “you are home…” I experienced the same thing in Vermont, Chicago, Wisconsin (and of course later in Italy, but that’s another story…). Anywhere that had seasons really. I began to understand that home had very little to do with where we are born or raised or where our family resides, but instead it goes much deeper than that. It’s more of a feel thing, up to each individual and how the environment affects their mind and body.
I don’t pretend to believe that this sudden transformation was due entirely to the weather. I am sure that culture and people also contribute to it as well. But for now, here, I am specifically focusing on the weather, especially as it relates to the changing of the seasons.
For me, someone who was raised primarily in the south, I find the cold weather of winter extremely comforting and grounding. It’s as if the cold winter weather is somehow attached to our very souls from some primordial source the dates back hundreds of thousands of years. A biological connection to the changing seasons perhaps through thousands of lifetimes of different incarnations on earth; or perhaps an even deeper more primitive genetic predisposition to the seasons based on the fact that nearly every atom in our body is comprised of the same stuff as planet earth is. We share the same molecular heritage and thus anything the earth is accustomed to so too are we.
I have concluded over many years living in the north now as compared to living in the south that there has to be some sort of biological reason for this almost supernatural attachment human beings have to the changing of the seasons. It is as if by our very nature, being biological organisms, that we are as attached and attracted to the cold of winter and the blossoming of spring and the luxurious warmth and heat of the summer as the earth is.
Now of course this might not be the case at all; it might be more of a purely subjective preferential cause-and-effect matter. Some people like cold-weather, and some people don’t. But I cannot speak for others. I can only speak for myself. And for me I have always found the cold weather and snow of winter as appealing as I do the warm weather and hot son of a day at the beach during summertime. Truth be told I cannot readily relate to those who desire to live in climates that do not regularly change seasons. Such was the case in Florida where if it dips below 70 people go crazy and throw on three or four layers of winter clothing because they’re so unaccustomed to cold weather. Not only are they not accustomed to it, they are overtly against it and claim to dislike it. This attitude against what can only be considered one of the most natural aspects of earthly living possible has always struck me as being very odd. But again it is after all a seemingly subjective thing.
Why is it that some of us prefer our winters to be cold and our Summers to be hot? Why do some of us prefer the changing of the seasons so much more than others? Some people don’t seem to have a preference at all whether the season changes in their environment, not even a little bit. This mentality I do not understand. I believe there is a divine purpose to the elegant and subtle changing of earth’s seasons. Something that not only greatly benefits the earth and all of its various species and inhabitants but also a profound yet subtle benefit to the heart and soul of humankind.
Seasons are landmarks, rights of passage, outposts in the desert of existence that help map our journey through life, each as important as the other. Just as one ends, always perfectly at the right time, and another begins, so too does our state of mind. There is something very unnatural about living in an environment that never changes seasons. The human heart and body are deprived of something powerful, perhaps even essential, which is why you’ll never hear me complain about the cold and snow, nor the heat and sun. They all have their rightful place. Just as we do. Many people are aware of Florida’s reputation for extreme corruption. Law enforcement calls it the “fraud capital of the United States”. Perhaps the unnatural never changing constantly hot weather plays a role in this strange anomaly that gives Florida it’s duplicitous reputation… I don’t know. But I do know that it doesn’t FEEL right. One only need spend one year in a locale that has four distinct seasons and they will feel forever changed for the better, recharged and refreshed equally from each though in a different way.
Right now we are enjoying Winter, in all of its glory, from temperatures below 0 to piles and piles of snow decorating the city in a luxurious soft white, to the slower pace brought about by the limitations of such frigid temperatures. And yet at the same time there also seems to be a cheery spark in everyone’s eyes as well. I couldn’t imagine spending January February or March in 80 degree weather as they do in California or Florida. It just wouldn’t be natural. In time Spring will arrive. The big coats and floppy hats will come off. Sun dresses and flip flops will start popping up everywhere and eventually be as ubiquitous as the bursting colors of fresh cherry blossoms and other floral delights. How else would we know this spring if not for this Winter? We wouldn’t. And that’s the point of it all.
– Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone 8s Custom
– Posted by The Ambassador using BlogPress on an iPhone