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By Dianne Armitage
This is not traditionally my favorite time of year. Being born and raised in Indiana meant several dark, dreary months of cold weather, snow, and ice. From the time I can remember I dreaded the end of Daylight Savings Time and the advent of a season filled with standing at a bus stop in sub-zero weather waiting to head out to meet the day. Since having breast cancer I make an attempt to both seize and appreciate every day I’m given, but it’s still a stretch when the day includes frigid temperatures and overcast skies for any length of time.
Added to my distaste for being climate-challenged is my dislike for having to wear heavy winter clothes. I can remember times as a kid where I had so many layers on I would pretty much have to stand in one place and hope no one would knock me over. It took mom so long to bundle all of us up for an outdoor excursion that by the time she was done with the sixth kid, I’d not only be sweating profusely, but I usually had to go to the bathroom (which, of course, meant having to take off layers and layers of clothes!)
One of the reasons I originally moved to California was my belief that it was always warm here. I was WRONG! Granted, it never gets nearly as cold as it does in the Midwest and East – but nothing out here is insulated so I’m pretty sure if I knew anything about math and physics I could tell you why I always feel so darned chilly once November rolls around. I don’t know if it has to do with age or global warming, but it seems to be getting colder all the time. When I first moved out here in 1968 I ran around all winter wearing my favorite Levis® and a flannel shirt. I was toasty, and more importantly, I could actually move my arms and legs.
In recent years I’ve noticed that I’m having to add more layers to my favorite winter ensemble. Now it’s not uncommon to find me wearing my flannel shirt, a sweater and hold onto your hat – a coat. I simply cannot lose enough weight to make this particular package look even remotely svelte. Not only that, but since I happen to be a woman of a certain age, I can never seem to find the perfect mixture of warmth vs. sauna. I’ve yet to successfully discover how anyone is able to get comfortable vacillating between a blast furnace and an arctic blast.
There is one exception to my seasonal dilemma, and that’s down comforters. Down comforters make me wish that human beings had to hibernate! I didn’t even know they existed until my first trip to Europe several years ago. I’d grown up with scratchy wool blankets, which was yet another thing about winter that left me shaking my head in dismay. On a trip to Germany I happened to stay at a friend’s house and thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I went to bed. It felt like I’d landed in a marshmallow.
Years later, while I was going through chemo, my down comforter was just that – a great source of comfort for me. I would wrap myself up in it when I was in bed, and also loved to shuffle into the living room when I was back among the living, wrapped in it so I could sit and watch TV. I’m telling you, ducks and geese are really onto something! I’m pretty sure if you look closely, their beaks are in a constant smile.
So I’ve decided this year, rather than be all grumpy about the weather and the extra clothing I’m forced to wear, I’ll tap into my inner polar bear and relish the moments when I am able to drift off to dreamland snuggled up in my very own downy delight!