I'm having trouble with this whole wintertime thing, guys.
|Natalie's First Chapter Book!
But by the time I had read everything else Beverly Cleary had ever written, and Punky Brewster had gone off to juvie or whatever happened to her, and... well my cursive was still fairly uneven I guess.... I had been shipped off to Florida, and I was adjusting to the markedly different weather.
And I adjusted... very well. In fact, you could argue that I've never been so well-adjusted to anything in my environment as I have been to the weather in Florida. I once stood outside of a Magic Kingdom merchandise location in the full July sun wearing a long-sleeved black blouse, black slacks, and my hair loose around my shoulders. A sweating couple, faces flush with sunburn, asked me somewhat incredulously if I wasn't hot. I glanced up at the midday sun, shrugged, and said, "It's warm, I guess."
And a few jaunts back to the Northeast -- once when I was a teenager, once when I was an adult -- were short-lived and involved a lot of grousing about the weather, and the short days, and the weather, and the weather.
But I moved to New York City in 2010 and the weather... you guys, it's just awful.
Take today, for example. Today, it rained. Except when it was sleeting, and for a few deceptively promising moments when it was almost-snowing, it rained. It was thirty-five degrees. You guys. What is this even.
Working with horses when it's cold out is possibly my least favorite thing to do. In Florida, I had a loose guideline for cold weather: if it's below 55 degrees, leave the horse alone. I would be too miserable to function properly, and the horse would be too happy to deal with in my defective state. Forget it.
In 2010, galloping racehorses at Aqueduct, I had already resigned myself to losing the feeling in my toes before I got to the first quarter pole. And that was in November. I couldn't put on enough layers to stay warm: bulk up with more than two sweaters, and I was too constrained to safely ride the horse. My ears I considered already lost to the icy winds off Jamaica Bay after just one mount. It was a bad scene, and I couldn't stick with it. I stayed home the rest of the winter and wrote the rest of The Head and Not The Heart instead.
Last winter I barely went outside. Forget it. I wrote two new books (both of which await rewrites) and hovered over my radiator.
But this year, I realized, I had to suck it up. I had to deal with winter head-on, face-first. I couldn't waste half a year -- and that's the unfortunate part about New York City, it's winter for half a year -- hiding under my down comforter. I had to do grown-up things, like keep my job, and accept reality, blah blah blah... some people actually do live in cold climates, and survive.
Like, on purpose.
There was some spending to be done. A whole new wardrobe had to be acquired. Warm riding boots reacquainted me with my toes and made posting trot less of a dangerous stab in the dark. Riding mittens from SSG are an acquired taste if you, like me, enjoy riding one-handed, but they're worth the trouble. And beneath the layers and layers, Heattech everything. Heattech leggings. Heattech socks. Heattech shirt. When in doubt, throw technology at it.
And I give myself pep talks. Like, hey Natalie, when you were in high school you actually survived blizzards and worked twelve hour days at farms without any heat and then went riding. That's always cheering. Proof that I've lived through way, way worse.
And the result? I can ride in the cold, so far, without actually bursting into tears. I can make myself get out of bed in the morning. My body is still whispering Hey... Natalie... now would be a great time to curl up under your comforter and write all day and never leave the apartment... but I'm resisting. So far.
But I still question my sanity when I look at the weather forecast! So if anyone has any suggestions on staying warm, in or out of the saddle, this Florida girl is all ears... if she can regain the feeling in them, of course.