Thursday, December 18, 2014

Winter Weather

Donis here, thinking about Christmases past. We've spent the past thirty Christmases in Arizona and are just about to grow used to the idea of spending Christmas in the desert. I grew up on the southern plains of the U.S., where the weather is extreme most of the time. (I exaggerate, but not much) If it's summer in Oklahoma, it's too dang hot and sticky and wet and miserable. If it's spring it's windy and stormy and dirty. I can remember walking to classes in March, when I was a freshman at OSU in Stillwater, OK, and by the time I got to where I was going my hair would be sticking out to one side and one cheek would have a layer of red dirt embedded in the skin.

My brother's front yard in Tulsa a few Christmases ago

Winter was always cold and windy and raw. We sometimes got deep, heavy snow that broke tree limbs, but it seldom lasted more than a few days. Ice storms were more common. One winter when Don and I lived outside Norman, in the center of the state, a big ice storm knocked out electricity and coated the roads. I was all for huddling in the dark and cursing fate, but Don insisted in getting into the car and driving five miles an hour sideways into town to go out to eat. I was pretty ill-natured during the whole trip, envisioning the police finding the two of us the next morning, frozen solid inside our car upside down in a ditch. I changed my tune when we were sitting inside a toasty warm Mexican restaurant wolfing down steaming hot chiles relleno.

But Christmas was Christmas, cold, like it ought to be unless you're an Australian. (Except when it wasn't. It is Oklahoma, after all, and cannot be predicted.) Now, in southern Arizona, we don't do cold, or at least what most people would consider cold. We are having a cold snap right now. Here is a picture I took of the thermometer on my back porch about an hour ago.

My back porch in Tempe today

Most normal people would not consider 60 degrees Fahrenheit to be cold, but I'm finding it uncomfortable. I had to rummage around in my closet for something long-sleeved. We can always tell who is visiting the desert for the winter, because they run around town in shorts when it's this chilly. We long-timers bust out the sweaters.

And no, people who live in hot climates are not wimpier than others. There is actually a physiological reason for their intolerance to cold. The capillaries grow closer to the surface of the skin after years of exposure to continual heat. Conversely, the capillaries of those who live in cold climates sink lower into the epidermis. A doctor friend of mine told me this. I don't know if he was pulling my leg, but I like the story and I'm sticking to it.

I'll take this opportunity to wish all you Dear Readers a very happy holiday season, great reading, and for those of you who indulge, successful writing.


Eileen Goudge said...

You're right about the cold. I know that from when I lived in Florida. When temps dipped below 60, you'd see people in Polar Fleece and down jackets. I grew up in Northern California where it's pretty mild but cold enough in winter to feel Christmasey this time of year. Happy holidays, Doris!

Donis Casey said...

And Happy Holidays to you, Eileen!

Sybil Johnson said...

I like the capillary explanation! I grew up in the Seattle area, fairly moderate in winter time compared to where my parents' grew up in Northern Minnesota. I've been in Southern California for a long time now. I swear I get colder here than when I go to Seattle in the winter!

Happy Holidays!