Dangerously Beautiful Winter Weather

Every day this week has been sunny. From weeks of clouds and mild weather, we’ve emerged into sunlight so bright it’s blinding as cold winds keep the area so cold it is dangerous to go on walks despite it. With wind chills frequently bringing the temperature below the negative ten degrees fahrenheit temperature that marks the point where exposed skin might get frostbite over the length of a normal walk, I’ve had to take special precautions in order to continue my daily stroll. They’re relatively minor, thankfully, since I’ve lived in the Midwest all my life and have access to the kinds of winter gear required to prevent any damage to my person. The only problem I wasn’t really ready to handle was just how blinding it has been outside, every single day, thanks to the heavy snow we got last weekend and the brilliant, cloudless days we’ve had since.

Still, I have been enjoying my walks. I’m sure I’d enjoy them more if the wind were less bitterly cold so I could soak up a bit more sunlight, but I’ll take what I can get at this time of the year. Normally, I’d spend at least a little time with my hat off and my sleeves rolled up so I could maximize my sun absorption, but I’ve had to get by with what little makes it through my clothing in the less-layered places. I don’t want to damage my skin, after all, and it’s not like I enjoy being cold. I’m just better than most at putting up with it. Without that change to my normal winter outfit, the only part of my body that is exposed to sunlight is the strip of face between my scarf and my hat that includes my eyes and, for incredibly brief periods of time, my hands. All of which is probably going to end if this cold and wind keep up much longer.

It has been a bit frustrating, this weather pattern. Any time in the past three weeks, I would have loved to be this inundated in sunlight. I would have loved to go for a walk every day without seeing a cloud in the sky. This week, though, when we’ve finally got it, it’s too cold to do much more than move between indoor spaces or do your best to ignore all the people who think you’ve lost your mind for spending half an hour outside. Most of these folks aren’t critical, thankfully, but they are frequently concerned and incredulous. Which only bears mentioning since I feel like it illustrates how most people see this weather as risky and dangerous because of the disparity between how nice it looks outside and how actually dangerous it is (again, mostly to people who haven’t taken the proper precautions).

It’s so cold out that there isn’t even the feeling of false warmth that frequently accompanies bright, sunny winter days like these, where the sunlight beaming in through windows and glass doors makes it feel incredibly warm. The wind is so strong and the cold so severe that even sitting in the direct sunlight of one of these windows doesn’t counteract the leeching cold that seeps through all but the best insulated portals. Most people don’t need to feel a chilly gust from a recently opened or closed door to know that it is cold out. The air is too clear for it to be anything other than bitterly cold on a sunny day like this. Which means I’ve left my place of employment to a chorus of shouts about how cold it is every single day. Most of which I don’t stop to reply to since it’s too warm under all my layers to stay inside any longer than I absolutely must.

I’m ready for this to be over. I miss being able to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. I miss being able to go for my walks without extra layers. I miss not feeling like I’m turning into a human raisin in the single-digit humidity of my workpalce as my body slowly dries out despite the ridiculous amount of water I drink and the lotion I apply as frequently as I can bear to put up with it. I’ve had enough of this winter, as mild and disappointing as it has been, and I could really use the mood-boosting warmth of spring and summer these days.

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