44: Wear The Wool
Happy Brunch Sunday! Let's raise our mimosas or warm mugs and clink a cheers to a bit of connection between work, notices and ads in your inbox. Written with a London accent in my head. Reading with an accent is completely your (next best) decision.
...det er ikke darlig vaer, bare darlige klaer.
"There is no bad weather, only bad clothing."
This quote came back to me today, as I braved the 36 degree morning to walk the dogs.
Central Florida fulfills it's promise of warm weather for the majority of the year, except when it doesn't.
The refrain is a mantra in Norway--though Sweden takes credit as well.
Always in competition, those two.
The author is thought to be either Alfred Wainwright or Sir Ranulph Fiennes, both UK-born explorers.
Of the places I have spent a portion of winter, Norway owns this phrase. Professionals working in the city of Bergen often opt to walk over the seven mountains, rather than using a car to drive around them.
Bergen, yes. Alta, no.
Alta, Norway, up inside the Arctic Circle, where the northern lights are visible and dog sleds are common, was -2 degrees (Fahrenheit) on Christmas morning.
While I was cold today, braving the tropical breeze, I know it can be colder.
Things can always be worse.
Is it gratitude that allows me to see this?
Or my experience of something "worse?"
We all know it is colder in Norway than it is in Orlando. The knowledge is not enough to make us accept the conditions we currently find ourselves in.
We can walk outside and smile and be grateful we are not in Alta, where the moisture around our eyes can freeze or the steam from breathing through your nose ices up the little hairs inside, instantly.
More likely, we walk outside and all our muscles tense in our arms, resisting the sea breezes on our skin, hustling to get back into heated houses.
I'm the neighbor who will quote Wainwright or Fiennes, or Norwegians and Swedes, "There's no bad weather, only bad clothing."
Our situations are not inherently bad. We are either prepared for them or we are not.
Is this true?
Currently, I find myself in a coronavirus state, pre-divorce, unemployed, and preparing to sell the family home.
You may ask, "How could I have prepared for this?"
Maybe there are bad situations?
After brushing my teeth, I donned a cotton undershirt, a 100% wool long-sleeve, heavy sweatpants reserved only for days like today, and thick wool socks to slip into my Florida slides.
A thinsulated jacket with a hood for the wind on the lake.
And wool gloves for picking up the poops.
I was as prepared as I could be.
The only exposed skin was my cheeks.
It wasn't painful.
I was looking up at the white-streaked sky and over at the tall white heron standing in the pond...
wondering when or if our residing five-foot snake would attack it.
What I find more challenging is sitting at my desk an hour later, the cold emanating from the walls and the windows of this cheaply-built home. The skin on my arms begging for a hot shower or bath.
The bigger things are easier for me to handle.
It is the subtle discomforts that I find more disturbing.
Cold feet on the kitchen tile.
I'm contemplating fingerless gloves to type on the computer.
I grew up just barely inside Wisconsin, on the same Lake Michigan coast as the windy city of Chicago.
Humid and very cold. The wind went straight through my skin into my bones.
I never learned about wool.
The same tennis shoes I wore all year, was what wrapped my feet through the snow banks.
I didn't always have gloves.
Standing at the bus stop at 7 a.m. with wet hair, freezing into icicles in the wind.
No hat. No hood. No scarf.
I didn't know how to protect myself against weather or people or authority.
But I do now.
The thing is, not everyone can afford 100% wool. Walmart sells synthetics.
I am very blessed to have this wool shirt.
I am way more comfortable than most in this country.
My neighborhood has clean (-ish) water. I can afford organic veggies and a dental visit.
While I don't dare to complain because I know it could be worse, I also know this:
whatever comes, I CAN HANDLE IT.
And not because I can remember details of handling things before.
Today's Deep Breath: here's a practical juju nugget, a collective Next Best Decision.
I hope you are warm.
But if you're not, I hope you handle it until Spring.
For me, Spring will be here in only a few weeks.
Michiganders: (where tulips bloom in June and half of life is winter) save your Walmart money.
Invest in one or two 100% natural pieces to protect you from the worst.
Robert Byrne said: "Winter is nature's way of saying Up Yours."
Funny little man.
My last quote is from a wise woman, Edith Sitwell:
"Winter is a time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."
In this marketed world that we live in, in this covid year, many are seeing more clearly than in years past--what is truly needed and what drives a capitalist economy that benefits only a few.
I propose we keep our Small Business Saturday, and let all other shopping holidays pass.
15, 30, even 50% off cannot compete with words like Edith's: comfort, warmth, home.
I was worried only a few weeks ago, how would the holiday be for me, if I am alone?
I am never alone, because I have me.
I love me.
When that is MY BASE for everything, there is less worry and anxiety and fear.
I take care of me. I don't need someone else to do it.
This does not mean I do not love others and cherish my time with them and show affection.
It means I do not wait for someone else to fix me.
I've already done that.
Until next time,