I don’t do winter well. Winter in the South is just so bloomin’ unpredictable — one day sunny and 75, then several days gray and gloomy, temps in the 40s, nighttime lows in the teens. All the makin’s of sniffles and flu.
Cold, gray, gloomy is all the worse if it’s also raining. Rainy, gloomy days, looking out the window at a barren, desolate landscape, can be downright depressing.
Such days might be less dispiriting if I had a grand stone fireplace and several cords of dry wood with which to build a roaring fire (and someone to fetch more wood when the fire got low, and take out the ashes). There is something primal and satisfying about standing before a roaring fire that radiates warmth into one’s bones and helps dispel murk and gloom and cold.
A steaming mug of sinfully rich hot chocolate — made with melted chunks of real dark chocolate, real milk (none of that watery, low-fat stuff of which any self-respecting cow would be ashamed), and real whipped cream (not the chemical-laden pretend stuff in a spray can) — now, that could further brighten the wintry drear. A flaky homemade biscuit, some butter and blackberry jam, well, that could definitely help to rev one’s outlook up a few notches.
A steaming mug of sinfully rich hot chocolate can help to brighten a dreary winter day.—Stephen Chernin/Getty Images
Alas, I do not have a grand stone fireplace, and today is a cold, dreary, rainy mid-30s day, making a trip to the store for chocolate, milk, etc., totally out of the question. It follows several days of cold, gloom, and slow rain. After three rainless months, the gentle, soaking rain is welcome. It would be just as welcome, however, were the temperature a pleasant 75 degrees.
In North Dakota, I’m told, a winter day can be 30 below, wind chill even worse. Nights are long, snow is deep, cars need plug-in heaters to keep engine oil from turning to slush. Why anyone would live there is beyond me. But they do. They are bound to be infinitely hardier souls than I.
Knowing that North Dakotans and Minnesotans and millions in our planet’s arctic regions have winters far worse than mine does not make my 19 degrees, or even 45 degrees, seem one whit more tolerable.
It is the fate, I know, of many of us “seniors” to dislike cold and winter. Like old cats, we constantly seek spots of warmth. Were the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol to appear at my door with roses, balloons, and mega-millions, I would winter someplace where there is no winter. A beachside hut in Bora-Bora, maybe, looking out across waters emerald/blue, sipping cool, fruity drinks, scarce giving thought to the cold and gloom I’d left behind.
But while I await the Prize Patrol’s knock on the door and mentally rehearse my acceptance exclamations of surprise at my sudden wealth (minus taxes), I will go and nudge the thermostat up a click or two…