Sunday, January 6, 2013

Warming up

Artist: Jessie Wilcox Smith
In a much younger life, the thin and faded light of winter suited me.  I was not troubled by the cold, not that there was much to contend with in Southern California, at least not by standards set elsewhere.  A winter birthday, chances for rain and indoor days with a stack of Nancy Drew books or the materials to make Valentines brought me and the season together.  We had harmony.   My affection for shrinking daylight hours began around Halloween.  Even though after-school time was spent raking, raking, sweeping and raking, I communed with the bright leaves and the dimming sky.

Now I shiver as though my limbs would shatter if we dip below 40 degrees, and sometimes at higher temperatures.  I have lost all tolerance for any sort of cold, here in our uninsulated - isn't it always warm? - home.  My necessary layers allow me even less graceful movement than my usual cautious lurching; I am the child from film and fiction, sausaged and immobilized in a snowsuit.  Indoors.

With normal/average mobility, I could dance myself warm.  Or vacuum, dust, rearrange, sort or, dread, exercise.  The parts that move unwillingly when things are mild, balmy, become all the more reluctant when shivering.  I do not imagine it, the stiffening of knees and ankles when the weather map shows an encroaching front of low pressure.  We, our bodies and all other aspects of self, are one continually unfolding mystery.  Adaptive living is the assignment.  We learn to adjust, improvise, invent.

Today, in my imagination as in my dreams where I still move fluidly and stand without yelping, this would be my tempo.  To those of you in chilly climes, stay warm and grateful for appendages that flex and function.  I am grateful for what I am able to do.  But I sure would rather be dancing up a sweat.

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