Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm opting for hibernation -- jcarolek

It's getting cold here in VA. I am reluctant to turn on my heat quite yet, as it just does not SEEM late enough in the season for forced heat in the house. So the thermostat hovers around 58 and I bundle up with layers of clothing to keep warm. And as I sit here stubbornly shivering, I recall times in my youth when I was cold... so cold I thought I could not bear it, and yet I did. And these thoughts help me realize that 58 isn't really cold, it's just a little on the chilly side.

When I was in high school I walked to school. Not living far enough from school to ride the bus and not having a parent who considered it appropriate to drive the kids to the various schools the six of us attended, we walked. My route to the high school was 1 1/2 miles. Back in those days, I carried my books and my violin every day, because we had all of our classes every day. Now, I am absolutely certain my parents provided gloves or mittens for me, but I'm equally certain that I rarely was able to locate them, so my journey was made with my coat on, and not much else to protect against the cold.

All the way to school, I would be concentrating on getting there as quickly as I could. Ice, snow, rain, cold wind, it was all part of my morning "commute" and in the winter, I was making my journey in the dark. By the time I arrived at school, my hands and face were numb and my hair, which had been wet when I started out, was sporting a sort of frozen "do." I had forgotten about THIS part until, at my 20th High School reunion, my partner in orchestra, Tom Peters, reminded me.... Great, that was his ONE important memory of me!

Anyway, one day I was walking to school and the sidewalks were particularly icy. I was concentrating hard on not losing my balance as I made my way up the hill and down the other side. It must have been trash pick-up day, because all the trashcans were out at the end of the drives in that community. As I passed one trashcan, a cat leaped out and darted directly across my path. I startled, lost my footing and slip-sliding I went down the sidewalk. My violin went one way, my books another. And I was mortally embarrassed. I collected myself, returned to an upright position, quickly gathering my books and violin, and looking around to see whether anyone had seen my fall... Fat chance! There was nobody else OUT there at that time of the morning, which makes me wonder why I was... don't recall. I cursed the cat, and carried on, getting to school without further incident.

I was wearing my favorite pair of two-toned corduroys... flared bottoms... red and purple.... What I did not know, but was made aware of in short order, was that my favorite corduroys had sustained damage in the fall.... and my friend was the first to notice. "Hey Judy! You have a BIG rip in your pants!" Yep, sure enough, I was displaying half my derriere to the world and because I was so cold, did not even FEEL the breeze the torn pants were affording me. Thank goodness for sweatshirts with arms to tie around the waist. That old sweatshirt in my locker got me through that day without further embarrassment.

That is the only time I recall falling on my way to school, but that memory is still right there in my brain. How many times have I had to walk across ice on the pavement since? And without fail, I see myself that day, stupid cat hissing at ME as if I had done something wrong, and I remember how much I really do NOT like the cold.

How do people who live in REALLY cold places deal with it? I'm a wimp. I think I will hibernate this year!

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