As I age, I become more attuned to the seasons of the year and the changes in light and warmth that come with them. I can’t help but dread the cold, dark time of year, winter, that lies just ahead. It is my least favorite season.
I haven’t always suffered so much from the cold. That began when I returned the last time from Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975. I had lived in Vietnam more or less continuously for the previous thirteen years and had become completely acclimatized. The year-round tropical heat of South Vietnam became second nature to me. Like most Americans, I wore as little clothing as possible and stayed tan year-round.
It wasn’t until after I returned to the states in May, 1975, that I realized how acclimatized I was. The spring weather in the U.S. and even the summer heat were uncomfortably cool. When autumn and then winter arrived, I realized what bitter cold really was. I bundled up in long johns, turtleneck sweaters, jackets, earmuffs, and stocking caps. I annoyed my family by forever raising the thermostat, even when we had a roaring fire going in the fireplace.
I’ve grown more moderate over the years, but sensitivity to cold stays with me. And as winter approaches, my cognizance of the darker emotions that accompany its shorter days and longer, colder nights is sharpened. It seems to me that the darkness and sadness of winter is so universally understood that we human beings had to invent Christmas and New Years as times of joy to counteract the mournful effect of the dark season.
Spring is the time of promise. The weather gradually warms. And we look forward to the relaxed happiness of summer.
I have to keep reminding myself that the warm time will come again. All it requires is patience. Unfortunately, I don’t have any.