Coming from the California valley, we get our fair share of cold weather. I've lost plants in the brief freeze periods that visited us and during December and January, it wasn't unusual to see all my succulents protected by dome-shaped covers, sheets, and towels to save them from a frosty death. Orchards and vineyards are dotted with smudge pots in the relentless battle to save fruit, nut, and olive bearing trees, as well as grape vines, from a killing frost that could devastate fragile blossoms and emerging fruits. If you have noticed fluctuating costs in your fruits, over the years, you can chalk it up to a killing frost and a battle lost in a bad winter.
Winter was also a period of time when I would make small alterations to my clothing habit. Going out in the low to mid 40's with just a light jacket or a blanket shawl was general enough for me to be comfortable. The sandals changed to shoes but no socks. If it rained, there was the umbrella, hooded rain jacket optional. And the shoes where actually a concession to not slipping on rain wet surfaces. Granted I was a bit extreme. Other, less hearty individuals, layered up, pulled on socks and wore gloves. My son was worse than I was. Sandals were basically year round. His first year of grad school, in Ohio, didn't phase him. Sandals it was Fall, Winter, and Spring. Even I thought that was a little crazy. Of course, that can be chalked up to youth. Later, years of living in Oregon and then Indiana taught him the virtue of shoes, socks, layering, hats, coats, and gloves. These are lessons I still am learning.
Learning these lessons haven't been easy; first I had to figure out why 32 degrees in California didn't feel like 32 degrees here. Thirty-two degrees is COLD, down to the bone and stiffen up the knees cold. So why? A temperature is a temperature, right? Well, no. Not really. First off, cold in California is dry. The relatively low humidity of cold air in my old home meant that conduction of heat off a body was slower. A body retains heat longer. High humidity and low temperatures, on the other hand, create bone-chilling cold.
Socks soon became a staple in my wardrobe. Along with socks, gloves now stay in my purse. They don't get set aside. They DO NOT get lost. Two scarves are used when one would have been just fine in past winters. And layering is necessary. Repeat that. NECESSARY.
The thing about weather is that it's not just cold, damp winters. It's also high humidity springs and summers. That requires clothing combat of a different sort. Apparently, the mosquitoes in California didn't like me. I never got bit. However, their Missouri cousins like me just fine. In fact, I am very tasty considering the bites I encountered my first summer here. The worst of it was the bites on my feet. I've already decided that socks and semi-enclosed shoes will be my new footwear. And I really don't care how hot and humid it is. The pants will be long. The t-shirts will have long sleeves. And I will be covered, head to toe in DEET.
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