Deceptively Warm

Last night was forecast to be quite low, temperature wise.  Teen temps with single digit wind chills were mentioned.  One does what one can to prepare for such in the South and then you hunker down, stay warm and hope for the best.

At 6:30 a.m. I peeked out the front door.  There was no frost.  None.  Notta.  The rooftops were clear, grass was brown and cars showed no indication of frostiness.

I opened the door and felt a rush of cold air hit me – cold but not so cold that it took my breath away.

Curious about how things in the unheated garage fared, I slipped on flip flops and threw on a jacket.

The back door opened easily, but the storm door was a solid sheet of ice.  The handle was frozen…had to break it loose to open the door.  “Odd,” I thought since the icing was on the INSIDE of the door and not the outside.

Outside I slipped and as I did so I checked the storm door handle to make sure I would be able to regain entry once finished in the garage.

It was a quick walk from the kitchen door to the garage door.  I passed the garden, now dead and in need of a quick burial.  I slipped under a trailing rosebush and as I swept a cane away noticed how odd it looked (plastic like) and how it felt (frozen). The ground beneath me felt hard.  There was no spring or bounce to my step.

Odd.  Especially so since it didn’t feel all that cold.

The garage door opened easily and I slipped inside, quickly closing the door behind me.  It felt warm within – or warmer than it had outside.  The two light bulbs I’d set to burn were still blazing and the plants looked quite different than those outside.  I breathed a sigh of relief and turned the dryer on for good measure.  A little added heat couldn’t hurt.

Back outside I went and there I stood for a moment.  It felt deceptively warm – dangerously so.  My hands and feet were exposed and neither felt any degree of discomfort.  No chill swept over me. The sun, not yet fully up, gave little warmth and there was no breeze to stir the cold air.

Why didn’t I feel cold?  At 20°F, in a light jacket and old sweat pants, with bare feet and hands, I should have felt cold.

But, I didn’t.  And, the longer I stood there, the more comfortable I became.

The cold should have triggered a primal survival response.  I should have felt the biting sting of the cold on my nose, toes and finger tips.  I should have shivered and quivered and been eager to regain the warmth of my house.  Instead of standing barefoot in the cold, I should have been driven to find warmth.

But, I wasn’t.

When you’re comfortable, there’s no drive to change anything.  When everything feels fine, there’s no realization that something is amiss and in those moments of disconnect harm can befall us.  Deceptively warm situations, people, opportunities, directions…they don’t cause alarm.  They feel right, safe…comfortable.

Deceptively warm – what dangerous situations have you allowed yourself to become comfortable in? What turned off the alarms in your mind, your body?  What silenced that fight or flight response to survive? Why so numb to the truth of the situation and ignorant of the damage it’s doing you?

Why? That’s the question I’m asking myself and you should ask yourself.

Why do I put myself in harm’s way and linger there oblivious to the fact that it’s hurting me.  The facts are plain to see.  The forecast is clear.  No good can come of it.  It makes no sense judge by how it feels when the facts scream for us to take steps to protect ourselves and remove ourselves from the deceptively warm situation.

As I type this, I do so with numb fingertips.  Their blanched tips are once again pink. My toes, however, are still white and though quite cold to touch, feel comfortably, deceptively warm.

Why did I stand out in the cold, unprotected and exposed?  I knew the danger of feeling deceptively warm.

Why did I remain in a situation hostile to life and limb and partake in action smacking of poor judgement and lack of forethought?

Four words reveal my state of mind: inapplicable, impervious, immune, invincible.

Why do you?

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I Write

I write so I won’t forget…

…the way the fallen leaves chased after the car that whipped through them as they lay thick on the lane…

…the road covered with orange, yellow, red maple leaves – newly fallen – unbruised, not crushed or creased, unblemished – like golden snow covering the road and raining down with the gentlest breeze…

…the garden in its last blush of bloom – the okra 15 ft tall with new buds and opening blooms atop it – and a freeze warning issued…

…the farewell glance I gave the garden after picking all I could from it before the hard freeze claimed it…

…the last green tomato found hiding beneath a tomato leaf, plucked and tucked safely into my pocket…

…the orange maple leaves on the three trees across the street cascading from said trees in waves of orange, covering the ground, hedge, street beyond…

…my refusal to put away my shorts and don sweat pants even though the wind was cold and whipped my legs until numb…

…the rush to rescue potted plants summered outdoors from the coming frigid blast and the frustrated flurry to find space for them in the crowded garage…

…heat from the “grow” light in the garage warming my face as I removed cold, damp clothes from the washer…

…knowledge that Summer is past and Autumn means business…

…that all work and no play makes Suzan a dull girl…

…Zinnias in their faded glory looked tired and ragged as the wind whipped them and temp fell – with scissors in one hand and a vase in the other I kissed Summer goodbye and brought in what I could of it before the freeze blackens the reds, pinks, purples….

…the snipped tops of okra stalks in a vase before me – hibiscus type flowers, yellow, pink and red threaten to open – I know they will wilt…

…I try to delay winter’s arrival every way I can think of….

…free weather gives way to cold weather and the thermostat is pushed from cool to heat and the furnace cuts on briefly and raises the temp from 64 to 65 for the first time since April…

…thoughts turn to the homeless man we saw at BK – I pray he found a warm place for the night…

…my gears are changing…from warm weather minded to cold…outside in shorts, breathing deeply of the cold windy air, embracing the drizzle that chilled me, refusing to hang onto what I cannot keep and willing to embrace what is now…

…cannot hold in my hand Summer’s beauty and wonder, but I can in my words and memory retain as much through writing as I can allow myself time and indulge myself the pleasure of…

…that October is beyond my reach and November, now here, has begun the countdown to year end activities…birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve…

…the ease of warm weather and less clothing is no longer an option – sweaters, sleeves, jackets and coats, gloves, scarves, and hats become the norm and a necessity…

…that on one trip to BK for a quick dinner we were approached by two (at BK) who said they were homeless and hungry…

…the crisp pinch of surprise 29 degrees and 35 mph wind gives to bare skin….

…that cold zoo mornings offer fantastic walking opportunities with few obstacles and only occasional reasons to slow for animal (or people) watching…

…that I am not a fan of change or of discomfort but I trust I am woman enough to embrace it and move forward through it with joyful expectation and hope…

…I am a survivor and though I may not embrace the idea of change, I do adjust quickly to it and move forward within it…

…that this who I am and how I clear my head and unload thoughts and memories to make room for more…

…who I am and why I am – where I’m going and my journey to get there….

This is why I write, you see.  It’s not for you.  It’s for me.

 

Accustom, Adapt, Acclimate

Last night the temperature dropped to near 0 again.

A quick venture outside barefoot and without a jacket was both interesting and instructive.

And, it was something I would not have done 3 weeks ago.

So…what changed?

5°F is still 5° but here I am running around with bare feet in the dead of winter.

Something changed and that something is me.

I’ve become accustomed to the cold because I’ve immersed myself in it.

I’ve adapted to the temperature because I’ve ventured out into it instead of shying away from it.

I’ve become acclimated as my body has accepted what is and left what was behind.

Warm Spring days lie ahead.  And, beyond that Summer’s furnace blast awaits. By Summer’s departure,  I will have acclimated to working outdoors in 100+° weather and find the cold once again a strain and a bother.

But, I know that by living it, and by living within it I can (and will) accustom myself, adapt and acclimate to whatever environment I find myself in.

That’s good and bad.  In cold weather, I may experience frostbite and hypothermia because I don’t realize just how cold it is…or I am.  In hot weather, I may overheat and suffer heat stroke.

That should serve as a warning to all – be careful what environment you place yourself (or allow yourself to be placed) in. And, by environment I don’t just mean weather related conditions and situations.

How have you become accustomed to the environment in which you live?

How have you adapted to what’s happening around you?

How have you acclimated to the conditions at home, work, church, socially…?