Baby, It’s Cold Outside

snow-2

Human reaction to air temperature is a very relative thing. Though still a Hoosier (born and raised in Indiana) at heart, and accustomed to brutal winters on the southern tip of Lake Michigan, I have to say that my tolerance for what I used to believe was “cold” has been seriously modified. Having also lived in Colorado for ten years, I have undergone a major change in my response to what is chilly, because I spent half of those years as a snowbird, leaving the house in Centennial in early November to live in our Pompano Beach condo in Florida until May. In 2016 I became a permanent resident of “The Sunshine State,” having become weary of the 2200-mile drive with the dog every six months before we sold the Colorado house.

winter-in-florida

Though Centennial has more sunshine than Miami, there is also a lot of snow, along with the occasional sub-zero temperatures. During the past five years, my body’s thermostat has undergone some real changes in its reactions to heat and cold. I used to shovel snow in Indiana and Colorado wearing only a light down jacket, gloves, and a knit hat when the temperature was ten degrees and took walks when the thermostat registered zero. My gradual transformation to a thermal wuss really took only five years.

fireplace

I used to chuckle to myself over the native Floridians, who would wear mittens, mufflers, earmuffs and anoraks when they saw the temperatures plummet to the low fifties. I must confess that I have now become one of those very climate-sensitive folks, perhaps because the mornings that dip into the fifties are so rare. Ninety-eight percent of the time, I now wear shorts and polo shirts. “Formal” occasions require light cotton slacks and short-sleeve shirts. Neckties are quite rare and seem to be used only at the time of one’s death, so that I’ve had most of mine quilted into toss pillows.

pillow

I always had a working fireplace before moving to Florida, but the one in the house we own in Oakland Park down here is, though make of brick, purely decorative. On Christmas Eve at our condo, where we enjoyed the holidays, I spent hours reading, while sitting in front of a large TV screen watching a video of a fireplace ablaze with crackling logs while I burned wood smoke- scented candles. The video lasted two hours, and I played it twice,  later adding the scent of balsam candles for extra olfactory effect.

fire

We’re all used to sitting in front of TV screens or radios, but those devices are fairly new, having been around only within the last century and now having become portable, so that folks are seen everywhere glued to their hand-held, electronic screens, often oblivious of whatever or whoever else is around them. For many thousands of years, however, human beings gathered around campfires, fireplaces, and potbelly stoves in communal experiences of warmth and shared stories. My attempts to recreate that ancient experience electronically is certainly synthetic, but I hope, nonetheless, that it achieves at least some of what our ancient ancestors enjoyed.    JB

About John

John Bolinger was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, where he attended Ball State University and Purdue University, receiving his BA and MA from those schools. Then he taught English and French for thirty-five years at Morton High School in Hammond, Indiana before moving to Colorado. He spends his winters in Pompano Beach, Florida. Besides COME SEPTEMBER, Journey of a High School Teacher, John's other books are ALL MY LAZY RIVERS, an Indiana Childhood, and COME ON, FLUFFY, THIS AIN'T NO BALLET, a Novel on Coming of Age, all available on Amazon.com as paperbacks and Kindle books. Alternately funny and touching, COME SEPTEMBER, conveys the story of every high school teacher’s struggle to enlighten both himself and his pupils, encountering along the way, battles with colleagues, administrators, and parents through a parade of characters that include a freshman boy for whom the faculty code name is “Spawn of Satan,” to a senior girl whose water breaks during a pop-quiz over THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS. Through social change and the relentless march of technology, the human element remains constant in the book’s personal, entertaining, and sympathetic portraits of faculty, students, parents, and others. The audience for this book will certainly include school teachers everywhere, teenagers, parents of teens, as well as anyone who appreciates that blend of humor and pathos with which the world of public education is drenched. The drive of the story is the narrator's struggle to become the best teacher he can be. The book is filled with advice for young teachers based upon experience of the writer, advice that will never be found in college methods classes. Another of John's recent books is Mum's the Word: Secrets of a Family. It is the story of his alcoholic father and the family's efforts to deal with or hide the fact. Though a serious treatment of the horrors of alcoholism, the book also entertains in its descriptions of the father during his best times and the humor of the family's attempts to create a façade for the outside world. All John's books are available as paperbacks and Kindle readers on Amazon, and also as paperbacks at Barnes & Noble. John's sixth and most recent book, Growing Old in America: Notes from a Codger was released on June 15, 2014.
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