Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Arctic Chill Invades Everglades Country

When we first moved to South Florida, I wondered why anyone would buy an AC unit with a heater down here. We even live in a house with a fireplace, but when we built a fire, it usually heats up the living room so much that the AC kicks on. We went for years without ever turning on the heat. I couldn't have even assured you that it worked.

I am afraid that some time during the last 12 years, we have become more like native Floridians. I no longer swim in the wintertime, even though the backyard pools are usually warmer than the pool I swam in when I was a grad student at the University of South Carolina. We turn on the heat earlier each year.

Today, our heat has been running. We resisted yesterday, as I joked about the fact that a few months ago, I was fighting the urge to turn the thermostat down towards the lower 70's to get cool enough, and now that the internal temp in the house was 70 degrees, I was shivering melodramatically.

Last night, we were down to 66 degrees. I realize that for most of you in the upper 48 states, that's not really very cold. I have chilly houses on the brain because of Dave's recent post about how to stay warm (or warmish) in a chilly house. It reminded me of my grad school years, when we lived in an apartment that had a single heat register in the middle hallway, and I would stand over the grate to try to warm up. We put plastic up around the windows and made heavy blankets to insulate the doors and keep the heat blocked into the only room we'd be in. We used a space heater.

And this was South Carolina, which didn't exactly have frigid winters. It's not like we were going to grad school in upstate New York. But the humid South often has much damper winters, and that damp chill seems to settle into one's bones and not leave until Spring.

This morning, I decided to stop being such a wimp, and I put on my Christmas sweatshirt that I hardly ever get to wear because Decembers are usually so warm and went out for my brisk walk. It was brisk because it was 43 degrees outside, and it was brisk because I walked at quite a quick pace. Chilly air and a smattering of Christmas lights in the pre-dawn hours--just wondrous.

Now it's back to the poem I was writing about this recent Autumn of the Ax, as I'm calling it, where we've lost jobs and several of my colleagues have lost family members and my friend will soon be losing her original hip. Some days I feel more like a hospice chaplain than a department chair.

I also listened to this great Walter Moseley interview on Fresh Air. He talks about family and the agony of Alzheimer's. Lots of great poetry possibilities there. What if our computers contracted Alzheimer's? After this Summer of the Broken Computers, I'm not so sure that computers don't.

And he gives a great writing prompt, for those of you (like me!) who still need writing prompts for your Composition students' last assignments. If you were losing your memory in a severe way, and a doctor could give you a pill that would restore your memory for 3 months after which you would die or you could live in a deteriorating state for the next 10 years, which would you choose and why? His latest book explores this question.

Or maybe I just want to dream about a session with a professional photographer. After reading this interview with Rosanne Olson on Susan Rich's blog, I'm almost convinced.

Head over there to enter a drawing for Olson's latest book--it sounds like a winner.

What I'd really like to do is some holiday baking. Time to make a holiday bread or two or three. Santa Lucia Day approaches; what is Santa Lucia Day, you ask--go here for some answers. Alas, today I go to school early. Maybe later this afternoon. Or maybe I'll bask in the glow of the Christmas tree and address Christmas cards. Or maybe I'll take a nap. Perhaps I'll write a poem.

Today is a shorter day at work--I could do all of those things! But it's the time of year when it's important to reign in my overachiever self, to just choose one activity and force myself to be fully present.


Kathleen said...

Maybe you can write a poem...while something bakes!

Hannah Stephenson said...

Wonderful post and reminders. This year certainly was about change for so many people...what's going on there?

Holiday baking, bring it on! I'll be making pizzelles soon...yum.