Monday, 1 April 2013

12 months of winter

I've gotten used to winter. It's become the norm. My natural setting. Bundling up in my coat before heading out, sloshing through half-melted snow, watching bright red blood streak across white grass as the wolves vanish back into the fog, etc etc. 

This is partially due to the power of central heating -- I don't think I've ever had a warmer, balmier winter. Combine the genius of the wall-mounted radiator with double-glazed windows and you've got the kind of temperatures normally associated with tropical islands. Sat around barefoot in a T-shirt, eating ice-cream; I'm surprised they're not growing hideous child-sized insects in the homes over here.

Compare this to my winter experience in NZ: even in my parent's house there was the mad dash down the arctic tundra of the hallway, that unheated space between the lounge and the bedrooms, so cold that it somehow smelt faintly of a freezer full of meat. And then there were the flats -- sitting up writing essays by the heater, clad in three to four layers, two pairs of socks, shoes, and a hood, with my hands clasped around a mug of scalding black coffee. And still freezing. 

Which is partially why I'm always baffled by the "So, how're you finding the winter over here, then?" question. I understand people over here think of NZ as a tropical island nation, but I still haven't been as cold here, outside in the snow, with my shoes soaked through, as I've been in one of the shithole flats I endured back in Hamilton. Zero insulation and a fan heater aren't a winning combo when it comes to keeping warm -- but it has prepared me for what has essentially been 12 months of winter. 

My last day of summer was in February, 2012. I left NZ at the very start of spring, and only had to deal with a few days of hot weather before I plunged myself into the howling winds of the UK's autumn. 

It's got to the point where the onset of summer is actually worrying me. What happens in summer, again? The clocks go back, as they did today, and suddenly the idiots are out in the 7pm daylight, on their way to drinks and barbecues, shouting and hollering at each other in the supermarket. In winter, it was just one rugged-up duvet-man after the next -- and now I have to see people. Half-naked people, in fact -- if my memory of NZ's summer serves. Which it might not. It has been over a year, after all. 

I mean, what do I wear? Sunglasses? Shorts? What about my coat? How will I cope without a coat? Where will I put my wallet and keys?  What do I wear on my feet? Do people wear jandals here? Do I even want to wear jandals? Will I have to spend day after day cooling off in the bathtub, soundtracked by the screams of pedestrians sinking into the melting footpaths outside?

Judging by the recent, snow-capped weather, no. And long may it continue. 

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