It’s a balmy 7 Degrees Fahrenheit as I write this tonight.
That’s Minus 14 Celcius, for the rest of the world.
The Air Quality Index is 184 (or 106, depending on the source), hence the hazy air.
I know it’s cold in some parts of the US right now, and I have as a Norwegian Viking/German Barbarian endorsed cold my entire life.
But I didn’t realize how selectively I enjoyed the cold.
Before China, I could bundle up in my house, get into my car (maybe even in a garage) and drive to the place I wanted to go to enjoy the great cold outdoors.
I would ski, skate, hike, sled, climb for a bit and then go back to a heated room, sip hot cocoa and then drive back to my heated home and look at the cold from inside.
The woman in this picture, a little different.
When I pass her on my morning runs her wares are out, and even when it’s Minus 4 Fahrenheit (-20 C) and my snot is frozen she is out there stomping her feet, wearing about 4 layers of wool underwear and selling seasonal items.
And keeping her little bucket fire lit.
When I pick up kids at noon, she’s there.
The bicycle repair guys and the men selling the new edition of Mao’s Little Red Book of Famous Quotes on the sidewalk, same deal.
Morning, afternoon, until dark.
They have all sorts of survival stuff, like little packets you keep in your mittens or shoes that release heat for 18 hours, and even ones you can attach to your chest.
Rechargable “hot water bottles” that you can tuck somewhere on your body and at the foot of your bed at night.
We have chosen to not own a car here for many reasons, and these are the days when I really second guess myself.
But even as we experience this meager identification with our neighbors, of fiercely braving the cold to do our daily business–school, hospital, market, gymnastics, church–I mostly don’t mind.
If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger.
So far we’ve survived.