Once, as a child, it snowed where I lived. You’d have thought the world had come crashing to an end.
Our family lived in what many would consider a paradise, about five miles from the beach, and only about 150 miles north of the border. The last time snow had fallen in my town was four decades before I was born.
Nevertheless, there it was; a genuine skiff of snow outside my window, resting gently on our blooming roses.
The snow was fascinating enough, but there was more. As I looked out my window, I realized that in order for there to be snow, the temperature would be in the low 30s.
Never in my short life had I experienced temperatures so cold. I ran out to greet the morning in my usual outfit: a T-shirt, shorts and a pair of those flimsy rubber beach thongs on my feet.
It was the first time genuinely cold weather smacked me in the face in a way I can still clearly recall six decades later. The air was sharp and clean as polished silver. It made me aware of my own skin. I could feel it entering my lungs as I inhaled. I was so surprised at this that I inhaled rapidly a few times just to make sure I wasn’t imagining it.
Well, I was 6 or 7 years old, and for me this was a first. Cut me some slack.
The point I want to make is this. It was at that moment I discovered something about myself I had never previously known because I had never experienced it — that a frosty, calm, sunshiney day was my weather. It’s the weather that made me feel the happiest, the most alive. It had nothing to do with my family, or my ancestors, or my upbringing. It was simply me.
I’ve never changed, of course. Those bedrock things about yourself never do. You are who you are, and I’m a guy who distrusts anger and loves cold, calm, sunny mornings. I love them like I love my wife. Like her, they complete me.
My wife, on the other hand, has family roots reaching back to Scotland and Scandinavia. A logical person would conclude that she has some of that cold, blizzardy Viking blood in her veins. But a logical person would be wrong. She is a true hothouse flower, and it’s just the way she is. Earlier this year we had to replace our home heating system, and never — not for a single millisecond — did we consider adding air conditioning to our purchase.
Well, we’re now slogging through a particularly rough summer, and temperatures hovering around 100 degrees are the norm. My wife keeps the screen doors open, and hums as she works. She is happy in ways she is never happy in fall, winter and what passes for spring in Idaho.
Meanwhile, these days I look for excuses to go for drives so I can run the car’s air conditioning. I’m writing this in my room with the overhead fan running full-tilt.
I’m no stranger to heat, by the way. I met my wife while living in Tucson — a place where walking outside in June is like sticking your head into an oven ready for chicken-roasting. You wince, but you endure.
Which is how my wife gets through our winters. She winces, but she endures. But whether it’s winter for her, or summer for me, there’s no point in complaining — we are who we are.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably wondering if I’m ever going to come to a point worth reading. If I am, it’s simply this. Sometimes we confuse the things we can’t change with the things we won’t. We can all become better educated, we can all change our minds when facts show that we’ve held incorrect assumptions, we can all become more polite, and we can all train ourselves to look for needs in others and then help if we can.
But the combination of our talents, our instincts, and our tendencies are ours alone. They are the unique things that make each of us so exasperatingly wonderful.
Chris Huston is an author and award-winning columnist living in southern Idaho. Connect with Chris on both Facebook and Instagram at Chris Huston-Finding My Way and at chrishustonauthor.com.