I hate being cold. And being
cursed blessed with really low blood pressure, it happens easily. So with fall beginning to throw its colors around and the first chilly rains coming on stage — of course my furnace wouldn’t work after its summer break. My feet were so cold sitting in my office this weekend, even with my little space heater turned on.
It never got above 56 degrees outside on Sunday (that’s 13 for the Celsius crowd)… and my house didn’t get above 63 (17C). I was relieved when the furnace guy arrived and fixed the problem, so I could just take the chill out with the thermostat set to 68. (Still too cool for my taste, but I’m not made of money!)
Now I know these conditions weren’t that cold. Still, I wasn’t happy. But as I grumbled about the lack of warmth and felt a bit uncomfortable, I thought about Mtuseni — who has no heat whatsoever in his house. Winters in the rural fields outside Johannesburg can get pretty cold; he’s told me of nights below freezing. And days in the 40s. And yet when he’s home there is no escape from that cold — being indoors is virtually the same as being outside. I can’t imagine it.
I tease Mtuseni when he gripes about the cold, mainly to take his mind off it. But he knows I’m sympathetic. I’ll pick up some more sweaters and a set of flannel sheets for him before my next visit. For now, he’s already griping about spring heat in the 70s. (That’s my boy!)
Being in different hemispheres with opposite seasons, it’s can be hard for us to empathize with each other’s weather experience. But this winter when my feet are chilly and I crank the space heater or kick up the thermostat to a luxurious, devil-may-care 69 or 70… I’ll remember that when it’s winter in South Africa, Mtuseni and his family don’t have that option. And that’s cold.
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