It’s 35 degrees out and eerily beautiful in St. Petersburg, Fla. I walked the pug twice today, exhaling hot breaths slowly and deliberately, staring at the way it hung in front of my nose and floated away. A ghostly cloud of carbon dioxide. It was as if I’d never seen my breath before.
I wore long johns today under a pair of running shorts. I wore a scarf all day inside the house and an Oliver Twist hat to the grocery store. Joe’s cheeks were rosy after our afternoon bike ride and my morning coffee burned going down like whiskey or an iodine injection before a CAT scan.
The bay was calm, flat and gray and people buried themselves under layers of sweatshirts and scarves, tossing tennis balls to their dogs in the park, jogging in place to stay warm. My ears turned red and hard when we were pedaling, but when I tried to pull my hood up under my bike helmet, the helmet wouldn’t fit, so I pedaled through the prickliness.
It was gloriously cold out, but if you’d have met me when I was 20, I promise you I would have cursed the weather with a furious fist. Western New Yorkers may be a hardy bunch, but we’re nothing if not expertly dissatisfied with the weather 300 days of the year. The weather, among other things, is what makes us exotic. How creatures can live comfortably in sub-zero climates blows peoples’ minds. What kind of creatures would choose to live this way with such utopian options south of the Mason-Dixon Line?
Of course now I miss the tundra (in small doses anyway) and as I lie here in bed listening to a Florida news station blow a perfectly chilly 40-degree day out of proportion, I can’t help but summon my inner grizzly bear.
“Cover your plants, folks. Remember to bring your pets inside. Farmers are working overnight to save their crops from the cold. Don’t forget to turn the heat on in your car before your morning commute. Some bay area students will have to dress extra warm tomorrow. How one Largo middle school is coping without heat. Next: more tips on how to stay warm in an arctic freeze.”
One Tampa news station posted these actual tips: Wear multiple layers of loose-fitting, warm clothing. Do not use charcoal or other fuel-burning devices indoors, such as grills that produce carbon monoxide. Stay dry and in wind-protected areas.
PUT ON A PAIR OF FUZZY SOCKS AND GET OVER IT. For criminy’s sake, it was so insanely hot in October the only pumpkin I was ever proud of rotted two weeks before Halloween.