Saturday, February 11, 2012

The First Degree

Yeah, it’s cold over here in Britain and, as usual, the locals aren’t used to it, the major infrastructures—highway, railway, water, electric—can’t cope with it and the heaters in our flat aren’t rugged enough for it.  In addition to that, I’m not very thrilled with it, either.
Usually, when cold comes to visit, it sneaks in during the night, nips at our startled ears and noses in the morning and then flits away before elevenses.  This time, however, it has come—uninvited and unexpected, I might add—for a protracted visit.  When I got up this morning my thermometer read one degree—one single, lonely degree—above zero (that’s minus 17 in local time).

You have to look carefully, but that is 1 degree. Fahrenheit.
Now, it’s bad enough that my old friend, NY Cold, has come to call and (not altogether unexpectedly) brought along his bastard cousins Snow and Ice, but it also had some other old and not-so-dearly missed acquaintances from the old country in tow: Itchy Skin and Static Electricity.
Cold arrived about 10 days ago, then Snow popped in last week and, since he hasn’t gone anywhere, Ice soon followed.  So I, along with the rest of southern Britain, dug through wardrobes for forgotten scarves, wooly hats and thick jumpers as we hunkered down and prepared to wait it out.  But then, a few days ago, I realized I was spending a significant portion of my day scratching at various (publically acceptable) parts of my body.  As it is too cold for fleas, I realized it was the dry, itchy skin that the lingering cold weather used to visit upon me back in NY.
Next, I discovered that, any time I ventured near a metallic object, an arc of electricity would leap from my fingertips with a sharp crack and flash of light, leaving my clothes smoking, my hair standing comically on end and everyone in the vicinity surprised at the inventive uses of profanity they had just heard.
The sitting room, thanks to the rising sun, is finally getting warm, but my wife has informed me that—Arctic conditions or no—we are going on our morning walk around the park.  I suppose I shouldn’t complain; I of all people should know how to deal with it, especially with the inborn survival instinct that I possess and the locals don’t seem to have, namely the quiet, rational voice in the back of your mind that—as you think you will go mad with the cold—whispers its soothing promise: “Someday, it will be spring.”

That's something you don't see everyday in Horsham park:
a Saturday morning with no one playing football (soccer).
So, me, my thick jumper, knitted scarf, wooly hat and inner belief that spring is just around the corner will be wandering through the park in a matter of minutes.
On the bright side, it will make our ritual cup of tea very welcome indeed when we stop for elevenses.

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