Sunday, 24 July 2011

Feels like: -3°C

There's a moment in the narration of Watership Down where Richard Adams points out that the enjoyment of winter is pretty much a purely human trait. Huge numbers of animal species spend most of the year preparing simply to survive winter - through stockpiling food, or putting on weight for hibernation, or any number of other methods that have developed over the last several million years. Humans, on the other hand, have houses and insulation and clothing and electric heating. Getting through the winter is something that's taken for granted.

Richard Adams didn't go far enough though. Humans who like winter, who claim it for a favourite season, are part of a vast minority privileged enough to be able to block out the cold, even when they're out in it, skiing or snowboarding or having snow fights.

Then there are those whose toes and fingers ache all through the colder months, who don't own warm coats, who worry constantly about paying their power bills. There are those who are sick, whose illnesses worsen in winter. Death rates are seasonal.

And here, there are those with houses being shaken apart, and a thick layer of snow might be the difference between a precarious, but intact, structure, and a collapsed roof.

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