We are entering the slow half of the year. The wind blows cold through the naked branches of trees whose life has retreated to the roots. The brown husks that remain of summer’s green scratch across the sidewalks in that cold wind sounding like the rustle of funeral crepe. Darkness slowly encroaches on the light earlier and earlier and clings longer and longer in the morning.
I have had to evolve the way I deal with winter. My body protests the cold in a way it never did before illness. It is not that I hate winter, just that my body protests the cold in a way it never did before illness. It’s also that I have had to evolve the way I deal with my fellow humans who carry on as though winter required no change, no adjustment. It is also where I find myself living because the resources to effectively deal with winter are not readily available.
When you find yourself in an unsatisfactory situation, you have choices. You can soldier on, grumbling and miserable or soldier on, trying to change your outlook and be positive. Or you can exit, stage left, and depart the production, be it job, neighborhood or relationship. The first question to ask is, “Is it me?” Yes it is me. I find myself not going out and doing things I need or want to do because of the cold. It is also not me. In spite of living in an area with true winter, this house has no insulation and plaster walls. It holds the cold like an empty warehouse. I have often gone out to get the mail to find it warmer outside even in the shade on a windy day. I can’t rip up a house I don’t own to remedy it’s deficiencies so there goes a check in the exit column. Other houses in the area are built to the same standard, so that means exit the area as well as the house. Considering I drive three hours to food shop for the sorts of food that has restored my health, I add another check. My super helpful and supportive nutritionist has moved away because she could not make a living here. Check.
I do realize I must work on myself first. I can’t just throw the cats into carriers and drive off to warmer climes without a bit of preparation. So that means getting through this winter without falling prey to the cold and the dark. I happen to be a lover of thermogenic foods. I use chili peppers, cinnamon, ginger and other thermogenic spices on a daily basis. I exercise. It just doesn’t seem to be enough. As cold and dark dominate my world and the checks in the exit box add up I know I will need to conquer my cold sensitivity to stay on track and get things done. So I am adding a new practice to my routine. I am creating a routine to increase cold tolerance.
Natives of Antarctica have evolved to deal with cold. So that was where I went looking for a solution. Unable to do first hand investigation I made a virtual journey through a wonderful website I discovered http://www.coolantarctica.com/ There is an excellent informational post on the science of cold. Interestingly the author makes the point cold tolerance is as much about perception as physiology. This ties in very well with my meditation and tai chi practice as does his advisory that acclimating to cold can be rather unpleasant and require a lot of will power. When I start my next gong on December 21st I am looking forward to exposing myself to the cold every day for 100 days. At least the cold showers will cut down my gas bill when it’s at it’s highest. The thermostat is set by the cats but they avoid the shower.