It seems that my thoughts are focused on the weather these days. Thank goodness I have a nice warm apartment because I have no desire to venture out into the winter temperatures that have been hovering around 0° Celsius (32 ° Fahrenheit). I just can’t take the cold.
The French have a specific word to describe people like me. I am frileuse (a man would be frileux) – meaning a person very sensitive to the cold. So being frileuse and being curious, I have been thinking about how different cultures react to, or adapt to the weather. My plan of action is to simply avoid going out in the cold as much as possible. In a recent post I talked about my astonishment at seeing postmen (and others) bare-legged in the winter here in England.
But I was really shocked to read an article on the BBC website about babies left outside to nap in very cold temperatures in some Nordic countries. In Sweden and Norway, for example, it is apparently common practice and considered to be healthy for the baby.
Can you imagine passing a café and seeing babies in prams parked outside in the snow while the mums are inside having a nice hot coffee? In the US or in the UK, I think we would be calling social services and reporting child abuse.
Even at the pre-schools in these cold climates, the children are put outside for their naps. But you will be happy to know that at least one pre-school covers the prams with blankets when the temperature drops to -15C (5F).
They claim these frigid siestas are good for the babies – they sleep better and the cold air helps to kill germs. But they emphasize that the child must be dressed warmly and preferably in wool. The Swedish say that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. Maybe they are right but I don’t think I will be napping out on the balcony this afternoon, no matter how many wool jumpers (sweaters in the US) I put on.
The idea of wearing wool clothing however makes me think of the other weather extreme and our travels in the centre of Turkey in the hot summer. We noticed that many of the older men and women were wearing wool jumpers. When we asked about it we were told that the same fabric that keeps the cold out in winter also keeps the heat out in the summer. I thought about this as I looked at the old men sitting in 30° heat (86° Fahrenheit) wearing wool and drinking hot tea. (They say the tea makes them sweat which makes them cooler.) I told myself that I should try it just to see if it works, but somehow I could never bring myself to do it. Maybe this summer.
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