This morning, I was sitting on the balcony drinking coffee reflecting that had I never moved to France, I wouldn’t be sitting outside in December drinking coffee. The reason is that it was 38 degrees (Fahrenheit) out there, and I was wearing only a short, thin sleeveless nightdress under my robe, no socks. My feet and legs were exposed. I could feel the cold, but it wasn’t bothering me… not only that, but I was enjoying the crisp aridity of the cold. In addition to being acclimated to colder climates now, my adventures of the last few years have made me realize that an absence of moisture in the air makes cold more tolerable as well as heat. This is what they call “brisk,” I thought to myself. It’s wonderful! Yes… this was ME, Kristi, thinking to myself that it felt wonderful to sit outside in 38 degrees. I know. Hell has frozen over.
I’d always been overly sensitive to cold. Those of you who’ve known me for years know me as the girl who grabs a jacket and cranks the heat the minute the temps drop to 70. Now, I’m the girl who sees a gorgeous, clear sunny blue sky, puts on a robe and heads outside to enjoy the chill with a cup of coffee.*
We have not yet turned on the heat in our apartment, and we’re not sure that we’re ever going to. It doesn’t seem necessary.
This is what living in a drafty little house in the French Alpes does to you. We spent the last two winters – not even just winter, we’re talking end of September through April, even May one year – huddled under blankets, shoving wood into a wood-burning stove, counting the pieces with dismay as we calculated how many days we had left until the next tree had to be cut… and still, we were cold. Cold, cold, cold. It was damp, the kind of cold that seeps into your bones and settles there. When I look back on it, it’s no wonder that I was able to get by in Berlin (which was very cold) a year ago October in just a thin pleather jacket. My internal thermostat had been effectively set to “tolerate the cold or die, you wimp.”
What I think is interesting is that my body is still set to cold-weather survival mode. Will I acclimate back after a while? This time next year, will I complain about the cold when it gets down to 70, pile on layers of clothing and turn on the heat?
On another note, something interesting happened the other night. We’d just finished eating dinner when Callaghan suddenly remembered that we had cheese in the fridge, leftover from Thanksgiving. Mom had sent it back with us when we left California.
“Cheeeeese!!!” my French husband exclaimed with delight. He got up, went to the kitchen and returned with a plate holding bread and cheese. Then he sat down, regarding the plate with concern.
“We don’t have a microwave,” he informed me.
“No, we don’t,” I verified, having lived in the apartment as long as he has. “You can use the oven. Actually, maybe we should think about getting a toaster ov…”
But Callaghan was up and running to his studio office.
“I know what I’m going to do!”
I waited, half not wanting to know.
“It’s under control! I have THIS!” He reappeared, blow-torch in hand. “This will do it.”
You know I had to grab my camera to get a picture of the ensuing act of violence on the unsuspecting slice of cheese.
Secrets of a French chef revealed! You’re welcome, and Happy Friday, Everyone!
*Oddly, I still suffer in air-conditioning… my fingers and toes turn blue in manufactured cold. Eh. The human body is weird.