I guess we must become more sensitive as we get older, because I can’t find any difference in the weather from my young days, though I do feel it more now – especially the cold! I well remember, as a young lad of about 18 or so, how I used to go fishing in the River Avon near Bristol in the middle of winter.
I don’t recall putting much more clothing on then, than I would for any other time of the year, just a windcheater and a pair of heavy, corduroy trousers, plus some sort of headgear and I was fine. Yet winter fishing in England was a little different to here in Australia, especially during a cold snap when the temperature might not go above freezing, sometimes for as long as three weeks!
I remember often arriving at the spot we wished to fish, at Bradford-on-Avon or Laycock perhaps, to find the river covered in ice, needing to be broken with the butts of our rods, just so that we could get to the water underneath. The peculiar thing about the ice-breaking action, was that when you hit it, it rang like some enormous church bell, and you could clearly hear the ‘boing’ it made travelling off into the distance, as if the whole sheet of ice covering the river was ringing in sympathy with the hole we were making.
But the cold itself didn’t bother us much at all, we’d put on rubber gloves so that our hands didn’t get wet and frozen from handling bait and caught fish, and we always took Thermos flasks full of hot coffee with us as well, but apart from those simple precautions, we didn’t provide ourselves with much weather protection at all. Nowadays, here in Australia, where the temperature rarely goes below freezing at all, let alone for two or three weeks at a time, Jacqui and I both need to wrap up in various layers of clothing, gloves, and scarves, just to walk up the road to our local shops; and even then we complain all the way about what the weather is doing to our arthritic joints, our sensitive facial skin and our chilblained toes! The very thought of what I used to do with the end of my fishing rod on the banks of the Avon, is almost enough to make me turn round there and then, to head back home and the warmth of our air-conditioner!
It’s pretty obvious to me that we all possess some sort of inner thermostat, which controls our temperatures during periods of extreme heat or cold so that, although our hands might get a bit achy on a cold day, at least our inner selves are kept at a fairly even temperature, so we stay alive! But by the time you get to be in your 80s, like me, that thermostat no longer functions properly and it gets a bit erratic. For instance, during the early years of our marriage, Jacqui and I used to go to Spain for our summer holidays, and we’d spend most of the 14 days lying in the full sun, on one of the wonderful beaches they have there, so that we could come home looking as if we’d been carved from mahogany, but now I can’t spend more than about 10 minutes out in our garden when the sun is shining, before I have to come back inside because I’ve overheated. Consequently I am now a sort of greyish white all the year, with none of the delicious bronze look I used to enjoy. I find this very hurtful to my sensitivities!
I know we’re all supposed to be suffering from global warming, which is going to get a lot worse before it starts to get better, but I really don’t see my feelings operating on such a grand, universal scale; I’m quite sure, in my own mind that it’s my own damned thermostat that is the cause of my troubles, not the world getting closer to the sun or there being too much carbon dioxide in the air! Well, I’m certainly too old to get a new thermostat, (if only that was possible), so I seem to be in a position of grin-and-bear-it, where I have to spend my summer days under some sort of shade awning, or in winter with heavy clothes about me, huddling in our one air-conditioned room, drinking hot tea or hot toddy, until things start to improve again.
I suppose I should be grateful that I’m still alive and able to complain about the weather and my incapabilities like this – beats being dead, doesn’t it!
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