Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dry Cold

In the desert, people sometimes say that dry heat isn't that hot compared to the sweltering, humid heat of the tropics. Oh, the desert is hot, but even the normal summer humidity of the Eastern woodlands (from the Atlantic coast to Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky) can feel like a hot washcloth on the face.

In contrast, i have to say that dry cold--3 degrees yesterday morning--doesn't really feel that cold. (And i just returned from 2 weeks in the Yucatan!) Winter is, in effect a desert, here in the north country. All the moisture is white and on the ground (i.e., snow). Unusually for the East, this year's 3 feet of snow is all dry powder. No snowballs or snowmen, so far this year. Skin is dry and lips are chapped.

The water in the ground is frozen, so trees, shrubs, and perennials are not taking in any water. The leaves of the evergreen rhododendrons have curled tightly into cocoons to try to keep warm.

Well, yes, my fingertips got cold quickly at 3 degrees, and took a long time to warm up. This is what happens when we die--heat leaves the extremities of the body first--the fingers and toes, hands and feet--as the heat and water elements of the body unbalance. The dying person probably stops drinking water, and the caregivers simply swab the lips to prevent dryness of the mouth.

This deep freeze of winter is an excellent time to reflect on death. The death of the year, of the old season, and also our own deaths. Everything in Nature dies. Even we, our precious self, is of the nature to die.

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