As the end of Winter approaches, some pretty nasty illnesses float around. Mutant flu, rampant stomach bugs and chronic despondence. It’s all very serious.
But I have it worse.
I have Terminal Insomnia.
Yes, it’s real and you can read about it here. And unlike the illnesses, it’s not seasonal – it’s an all year round affliction. And it can’t be treated or cured by a change of season. And the advice on the websites doesn’t help much either.
And Terminal Insomnia is a sneaky bugger. Sometimes it will go into remission for a few weeks and then all of a sudden it will come back, worse than before. I never know when I’ll have an attack or when it will stop its nonsense.
But it could be worse. I could have Fatal Insomnia. This is the worst kind. Even an induced coma cannot make your brain shut down. So eventually you just go mad and die. Sadly, there is no cure.
So if you have the sniffles or mild diarrhea or you’re lovesick for summer, suck it up! There are worse things that can happen to you.
It’s easier to do something about being cold. For example, you could put on a jacket or wear woolly socks. When you’re too hot, short of swimming, there is only so much clothing that can be removed before being considered indecent.
I find cold exhilarating and I don’t like to perspire. While the cold dries out my skin it is less painful than frequent sunburn from the African sun. Warm beverages are infinitely better in winter and red wine is a valuable aid in heating up your core body temperature.
But most people disagree. I wrote about this last year to try and encourage people to be more cheerful – you can catch up or remind yourself here. For those of you who do not like winter, I have made a list of fun things you can do to pass time.
Set up correspondence with people from the Northern Hemisphere. Not only will they remind you of why you prefer summer, but you can gloat in a few months time about how warm it is in the Southern Hemisphere. They will be complaining about chill blains and you’ll be drinking Gin and Tonic from a frosted glass.
Cocoon yourself in blankets. Much like ‘swaddling’ which Lock taught Claire to try on her crying baby in Lost – this is very comforting. This then leads to the perfect opportunity to pretend you are a caterpillar and that you will one day become a butterfly.
Eat large amounts of cheese. You’re covering up all your skin, so you may as well allow yourself to gain a little weight.
Ski on frost. This is much easier than it sounds. You don’t need fancy equipment. All you need to do is walk on frosted grass, early in the morning and you will be able to slide around with the same amount of grace as a three-legged elephant.
Court your heater. This is an alternative to the cliché summer romance. It’s not nearly as memorable, but it will take the edge off.
Embrace your pale complexion. Not only will you age more gracefully, but you can pretend to be a vampire.
Attend a ‘Christmas in July’ event. It’s much more original than the standard Christmas. And be honest, you would rather eat turkey in the cold than on a sticky, summer day.
If all else fails, you could just hibernate and emerge in a few months, unshaved and grumpy.
It’s still cold, but we all survived the mutant cold front and are stronger people for it.
I’m not going to lie – there will be cold fronts ahead and days where we all can’t feel our fingers and our cars won’t start in protest of the icy weather, but winter is really not that bad.
The solstice has passed. That Pagans have partied. That means the days will get longer, the sun will warm us for a few moments longer each and every day moving forward. And even the most hardened night-owl will admit that the sun isn’t a half bad thing to have floating around in our solar system. And just think about that extra vitamin D you’ll be getting. This has various health benefits I honestly can’t be bothered to get into right now.
We have passed winters peak and summer is on its way. Spring is around the corner, and everyone loves spring. So hang in there, and if you can’t, well, winter is not entirely terrible.
Just think about hot chocolate… Go get some, and then continue to read. It’s good, isn’t it? It’s making you feel warm right now. And it’s yummy.
Winter means it’s okay to pick up a bit of weight. And this is natural and good, don’t fight it. Your body needs a bit of extra padding to survive. So there is less than zero reason to panic because of a few extra rolls. No one is going to make love above the covers for a while still, and if you have half a brain, you’re wearing enough clothing to hide the winter flab when you aren’t getting frisky.
In winter you get to enjoy soup. Soup is great and you can have it at any point in the year. But if you think about it for a few seconds, it’s not nearly as satisfying as when you have it in summer. Throw in a tasty slice of ciabatta or rye bread and you’ve got a healthy meal that not only warms your body, but is yummy too.
Don’t even get me started on stews, casseroles and pasta bakes… These taste so much better when it’s freezing outside. So enjoy your food, go wild, eat chocolate… Being chunky can be solved by reading Cosmo or Women’s Health next month. They will have you bikini ready before you can say September.
If you aren’t working in education and are still doing the whole 9 to 5 thing, getting up is an achievement every single day. Getting out of the shower is about as fun as chewing on sandpaper, but if you have half a brain, your clothes are warming near the heater. So get smart and stop whining.
Getting into bed at the end of the day is now better than ever. And two days of every week you get to lie in and enjoy the toasty cosiness. Is there anything better? Yes, probably, but on those days there aren’t. And while you work, you have warm and lazy mornings to look forward to for an entire week. This is awesome, admit it.
And then there are movies in bed. It gets even better, because reading in bed becomes a refuge, something you look forward to because it’s warm and stimulating.
When it’s cold and no clients are hanging around your office, it’s okay to wear a blanket at your desk. This not only endears you to your colleagues (themed blankets even more so), but makes you feel like a Mexican. When you get over wanting Tequila, you get to experience a tiny part of a different culture. If you’re really brave, wear the blanket around your clients. They will probably admire your attitude and sensibility meaning more business in the long run.
If all of the above are not enough for you, think about the balmy winter afternoons that we so often experience in South Africa. Don’t take them for granted. Go for a walk – you won’t sweat profusely. Lie in the sun – you won’t get sunburnt. For me, there is nothing nicer than being outside on a mild winter day. There are more of them than you realise too. You’re just too caught up feeling sorry for yourself to take advantage.
Winter also means there is the chance of snow. In South Africa, snow is cool (until you play in it – then it’s just wet and cold). But snow is pretty, and filled with nitrogen or something, which is great for plants growing in spring. That means your steak will taste better and your soy products will have higher nutritional value. So winter is the foundation of happy dining in summer.
I don’t love winter. I just don’t mind it that much. And I’m done complaining and whining about how I have frostbite (no one believes me anyway). But being a human is about looking and moving forward. And that’s what we’re doing.
And in a few months we’ll be moaning about heat. And I’ll have something else to write about.
We all know global warming is a serious problem, and that the ice-caps are melting and soon penguins will be preferred pets because they will move into our flooded homes and no one will really have a choice, but I have to ask: where is the heat?
Unless, it’s just called global warming because global cooling sounds more frightening and could result in mass panic and people would hunt neighbourhood pets to make gloves and hats. The term climate change is much more accurate, people should start using it more, we’ll all be less confused.
I have lived in Johannesburg for eight years now, and I have never, ever been so cold. In my first winter here I only moved into winter attire at the end of May and had a great time staying out until 3am because it was so mild. 2010 has other plans.
The TV says that a cold front had moved in over the interior of South Africa and that it would be followed by another one. This was a lie. What really happened is that the two cold fronts were courting, fell in love and are now having their honeymoon over Gauteng. I hope they don’t have children, because we are talking about seriously icy genes here.
But this led me to discover something that may have saved my life, cats are great for keeping you warm. I’m looking after The Delia’s kitty while she is away in a much more temperate part of the world.
The three most obvious things about Rosa are:
She’s very wary of strangers. She wanted nothing to do with me until the cold moved in, but then one night I felt her jump onto the bed and stare at me.
Cat’s have a super-power where, even if you are asleep, their stare will wake you up. And if you pretend to be asleep, they will walk over your face, just to make sure that you don’t get any rest. Rosa is very good at this.
She likes all things warm. Sun, heaters and human bodies.
So I lifted the covers and a very grateful cat cuddled up to me and instantly started purring. Soon she was warm and even better, giving off heat.
I don’t mind that Rosa likes to poke me with her claws. I don’t mind that Rosa will walk over my face when she wants to snuggle (she’s not the most subtle cat around). And when I get back from work, much like a dog, she’s waiting at the gate. Unlike a dog, this is because she feels she needs to lead me to the kitchen where her food is (she doesn’t think I’m very bright). I actually really like her, and not just because she lets me warm my hands in her fur. Cats are just cool, they can’t help it.
This winter has turned me into a cat-lady. It’s all downhill from here. 45 years from now, I’ll live in a cluttered cottage with my 63 cats, smelling like moth balls and tuna. But this is something I can handle, because the next ice-age will probably happen around then, and I’ll have a blanket of cats to protect me from the cold. Who’ll be laughing then?