Saturday, December 5, 2009

It's Cold: walking, toughery, the female metabolism, D. H. Lawrence

It's cold outside. The month is December, I feel a barbarian invasion at the window along my bed or maybe the barbarian impulse within, to kill and skin an animal and wrap its fur around myself.

Sorry about the word "barbarian" with all its social and historical trickery. I'm reading The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity, soaking up its thousand tidbits about fourth century politics, seventh century saints, the forgotten, the victims, the victorious. Point? The "barbarian" is on my bed and the cold is licking at tall windows.

I go as long into winter as I can without turning on the radiator, to keep the air cleaner and me tough. My parents would, as legend goes, leave me out for an hour a day in a baby carriage (a baby was I) in the frosty winter on Long Island so the impulse to tough it out is in me.

But when I was in my twenties and thirties I was always freezing. It was the frosty winter of Los Angeles. "Ach, young women," my mother would say, imitating my Swedish grandmother. She was onto something, the young women part, and our hormone balancing acts, not daredevil but devilish. Back then I was under exercised-one of the reasons I left L.A. for Seattle-I wanted to live someplace I could walk.

I remember freezing or thinking that was the case my first years in Seattle. I also remember walking up and down Seattle's hilly streets. I remember (to use a coined phrase) returning to Seattle after a few weeks in L.A., or that summer in the Bay Area (remind me to write about that) and needing to reclaim my new city by walking from Ballard along 45th to the U district, from Montlake to downtown to Queen Anne. That's a lot of walking and it was compulsive.

Like a cat spraying or dog sniffing. Really. Try to stop me. Even last Wednesday night when I was in Queens around 83rd Street (off the 7 train). I was thrilled to be on new-to-me streets and had to push myself to find my destination. All I wanted was to walk and explore. The area was much like any other area off the 7 train but still . . .

So we can assume my metabolism has upped and warmth isn't the issue it was in younger days. Not sure how a scientist would compare Los Angeles weather with New York weather. Not my concern.

Oh the famous walks of Wordsworth in the Lake District. Oh those D. H. Lawrence characters going for their three-hour strolls in the English countryside after a Sunday dinner. I no longer marvel but simply wish I did even more of it, walking. An hour on flat city streets has nothing on hikes in the wilds (however defined in gem-y England).

It's cold outside and my fingers have walked a few meters over the keyboard. My coffee cup is empty. Time for tea. Time to get outside again.


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