The Beauty of the Frigid Cold

My own Maine has taken an abrupt turn into down comforter weather.

In the evenings, the mercury in the thermometer dives even deeper. My muscles go tense, then rigid. But when I get into bed and under the down, my body melts back into place beneath that fleshy marshmallow blanket. It is bliss.

A friend lives in a pocket of California that is 70 degrees and cloudless 365 days a year. In February, it occupies all my fantasies. I step off the plane coatless, mitton-less, snow-soaked bootless, into the ease of temperature perfected. But give me a few days in the soft and easy weather, and I stop appreciating it. The consistency, the invariability, the givenness of it - I take it for granted.

If there’s a beauty to extreme cold, it is that it can make us appreciate warmth with a depth and fullness unfamiliar when the weather is more even.

There is much I don’t like about down comforter weather: the wind chill, how my fingers get red and slow, the way we have no say in when it starts or when it ends.

But what I do like is that without it, there would be no bliss in a down comforter. It would just be a misshapen rectangle of poof.

Without searing heat, there’d be no bliss in ice cubes and a/c and the tingle of ice cream headed down your throat.

Without dumping rain, there’d be none of the safety and snugness we can feel from under an umbrella. None of the delight of smashing into a huge puddle with our huge rain boots.

Without February in the northeast, I wouldn’t savor August nearly as much.

Without one side, there’s less appreciation for the other side.

So may we have the down comforters and the coats that we need, the fans and the icy drinks, too. And may we find the bliss that can only come from living the full sweep of the experience.

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