I left Knoxville on Oct. 29, headed for warmer weather.
Knoxville was still in the transition stage, even for a cold-blooded human like me. The early-morning temperature the day I left for the airport was mid-50s. When I landed in Miami, it was mid-80s.
I turned my face to the sun, held out my arms and stayed nice and warm and toasty for eight days.
When time came to come home, I put on my long sleeves and wrapped up in my sweater-coat. The shorts-clad, flip-flop wearers at the Miami airport gave me a few confused glances, but I was happy. I was warm on the airplane, and Knoxville was in the 50s when we landed.
My husband will not move with me to a warmer climate because he loves having four seasons, a breathtaking fall, temperate spring and the possibility of a good snowfall. I would probably love those things, too, especially since I spend most of the winter indoors, except for one loophole: I am not warm in a 70-degree house.
When it’s really cold, my husband will reset the thermostat to 72. While I appreciate the sentiment, it really makes no difference to me. Blowing 72-degree air on me just makes me cold. The space heater that sits by my desk is set at 80. Right now it is blowing 78-degrees, trying to warm me up as I huddle next to it.
And, yes, I know, it isn’t even really “cold” yet!
I haven’t always been this cold-natured. It happened suddenly, after I had bariatric surgery for weight loss, and other health reasons, in 2003. They told us in the pre-surgery group classes that some of us would feel the cold more than we did now, and they weren’t exactly sure why.
“It happens,” the counselor said. “After the surgery, some people have a hard time getting warm for several years.”
Mine never went away. All in all, having to wrap up in blankets to watch television is a small price to pay for the benefits I have reaped from the surgery and weight loss.
It does make it hard to enjoy winter. The bulky sweaters are already sitting on the shelf, and I am never, ever without socks.
I have a companion in my affliction. My little dog, Sassy, is part chihuahua and is right there with me under the blankets. Sometimes I wonder how she can breathe because she stays completely under my heavy blankets, snuggled up to my leg or curled next to my arm. Sometimes I wish she were a 40-pound furry lab willing to share her body heat, but having a companion in my wars against the cold is good enough.
Perhaps this won’t be a “cold” winter. Even if it is, I cling to the four seasons my husband loves. As someone once said, “Every winter has its spring.”
Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons. Her newest adventure is as a travel agent with her own company, SGH Go Travel. Email her at [email protected]