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The Freeze
Our recent cold snap has Ann Manheimer reminiscing the virtues of real wintry weather.

By Ann Manheimer

My neighbor's roof glittered with frost the last morning of the recent icy weather morning. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I miss it.

Once during the cold snap, the sprinklers in my yard inexplicably came on at 3am. I had to get out from under my piles of blankets, layer on clothing and venture into the freezing pre-dawn dark, where stars glittered crazily with a clarity you hardly ever see in a California night sky. Later, I discovered ice glinting where water had puddled in the cold.

There's just something about bone-chilling weather. The edge it gives to being outdoors, the need for care where you step and where you drive, the chill of your naked face meeting your body's wrapped-up warmth, the smoothness of lotion on skin turned to sandpaper. The lighting of candles in early darkness, creating a small circle of warmth just as the chill descends.

I'm a child of Southern California. I grew up in a mono-climate where winter temperatures rarely dipped below the 60s. I remember sweating terribly in my wool skirts, jealous of my snow-bound Eastern cousins.

A few years back, I spent a couple of deep-winter weeks in Vermont, where the morning ice was so slick only the strong and healthy could venture onto the sidewalk and they had to venture warily. Getting stuck outside meant courting frostbite -- or something much, much worse. I loved it, made easier since I was able to venture. But I think I would love it, even from indoors. I know it can cause hardship. Still there's a thrill in extreme weather so long as it's not too extreme. We don't get much of it in the Bay Area. But when we do, it reminds me of how close we all are, even here, to the edge, how fragile and beautiful it all is.
    
So for now, I'll keep admiring my neighbors' fake-icicle lights, but for a short while there, I relished the real thing.

With a Perspective, I'm Ann Manheimer.

Ann Manheimer teaches and writes for children in the East Bay hills.

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