Everyone knows what its like to get cold. When your nose feels icy and your fingers and toes tingle and you cannot help but shiver. Some people say they don’t mind being cold and that in fact they prefer it to being too hot. To those people I say, ‘You cannot ever have been truly cold then’.
When you are truly cold you stop thinking of anything but getting warm. Your mind can wander away from its usual modus operandi and onto anything that could make you feel better.
Its true, though, that sometimes, often due to physical exertion, its possible not to realise how cold you are. Exertion staves the cold off to some extent but does not get rid of it completely.
Cold, when it fills you to the core, can feel a lot like tired or hungry. Indeed, there are levels of cold, tired and hungry that all feel alike.
I have been cold.
I have felt it bite in the mornings when I take my winter walks. I often don’t notice it until I get home but it hits me like a sledgehammer as soon as I stop to take my boots off before going inside. A pain wraps itself around my body like I have been hit with a truck load of ice cubes and nothing but a hot shower will work to warm me up.
I got cold yesterday evening, in Carlisle cathedral, whilst listening to Evensong. My hands and feet and back protested and I could feel the wintery weather seeping in through the stones. Strangely though, it actually seemed to make my focus on the prayers and music more acute. The cold stopped my mind wandering and kept me focussed firmly on the moment. As I craved warmth, the service spoke to me in ways I didn’t expect.
Warmth, when you are cold, is bliss. Even the most tasteless or downright weird cup of hot tea becomes manna from heaven. A shower has to be turned down to lukewarm in order that you can stand it, and even that feels too hot on your skin. And a comfortable bed with an electric blanket is wonderful. To be warm after experiencing true cold is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
Finally, to be cold reminds me of Robert Frost’s famous poem,
Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice
(Copied from Wikipedia).
Its not one of the beautiful poems of the world. It feels stark and somewhat cruel to me. And it compares ice to hatred, which I don’t agree with. From my perspective, hatred burns with a very hot flame. But this poem still says a lot to me about the experience of being cold. Cold is not pleasant by any stretch of the imagination however, like desire and hatred both, it sometimes cannot be avoided.