The cold is here- when do I just give in to it?
The cold is arriving here in a chilly city famous for its winters, Buffalo. There’s a macho sensibility with putting up with the cold. When do you turn your furnace on? Apparently never in September, even if your’re freezing. That’s part of the Buffalo character and it’s our conversations these days.
“I turned the heat on ,” I confessed to a woman waiting for the bus. She’s from Florida so her heat is already on. At the dentist’s office, the assistant tells me her tenant asked if she’d turn on the heat. Her response, “Bundle up.” And that’s what I’ve been told more than once. Yes, this is Buffalo and even those who can afford to, wait until it’s way too cold before they succumb. There was one October when I ran into a friend shopping who said she was avoiding going home because she didn’t want to put on the heat. That’s how far it goes. Another friend simply didn’t put on heat until it snowed.
Night time temps here dropped to 43 last night. That’s about as cold as it got in Barcelona. There we had a different dilemma. I never had central heat so I moved through chilly spaces in my flat to get to the warm rooms- bedroom and living room. One acquaintance from Iceland said she was colder in Barcelona than in her country. The indoors was chilly but the outdoors never got to the point it does here.
Thankfully since the years I lived abroad, fleece and down have entered our lives. My last foray into a Buffalo winter was spent in a secondhand Swiss army coat that reached my ankles and weighed a ton. Before that I don’t remember feeling the cold. My sister though said I spent winters in our big farmhouse wearing a GAA (girl’s athletic association) jacket and a wool hat. My hair was tucked up under the hat. I remember the prickly feel of the hat on my forehead and the deep solitude of snow surrounding us, inch upon inch piling up. The snow was the icy cover I needed to survive those years of my mother’s long slow slide into her illness and death.