Here in the City of Four Seasons, as my Western North Carolina town is known, we’re having a cold winter. My partner, a Southern man, feels it more than I do. He stands at the window, shakes his head at the falling snow and the swirling wind, and reports on the outside temperature every hour. My Yankee blood can take it. I want to go outside in the midst of a storm, throw snowballs and make snow angels. I tell him stories of the harsh northern winters of my youth, and the skiing, both downhill and cross country, as well as the sledding, skating, and snow shoeing I enjoyed in the frigid winter air.
I try to be patient as my partner complains. After all, studies show that older adults tend to have slightly lower body temperatures than younger adults, and over time our bodies are less able to regulate temperature. Our blood circulation—especially in our hands and feet—can also decrease as your blood vessels lose elasticity. And he experiences Raynaud Syndrome in the winter, especially in his hands.
Despite my stories and my appreciation of winter, it’s been a long time since I engaged in the winter sports of my youth. There’s no good skiing nearby, and I lack a close hill and a sled. No snowshoes or skates either. I love snow, though, and the beauty and quiet it brings to the world, especially now that I don’t have to commute to work in the winter. So I’ll be the one to pull on my good winter boots and heavy coat, wrap a scarf around my neck and don my hat and gloves and go outside in it. I’ll walk to the mailbox or the store on the snowiest days, sticking my tongue out to catch the flakes as I did as a child. But these days, I tread more carefully over icy roads, down the steps from our front door, and on the sidewalks due to the risk of falling. It’s the leading cause of injury in adults 65 and older, I hear.
I also heard the other day, though, about someone’s mother, in her 80’s, who joyously took a sled to a hill and rode down in the midst of our latest snowstorm, while her son, in his 60’s, shivered inside. I decided from now on, she will be my role model. Sledding anyone?
Lee Stevens is writing and reconnecting in Hendersonville, NC.