Mild, Isn’t It?

2 02 2009



“I daid, my node id froden”                   (Niagara Falls, Ontario)


My nostril hairs froze on the way to work the other morning. It’s not the first time this has happened – in fact, it happens several times each winter – but it is always a source of frosty bemusement. Although I don’t know at which precise point of centigrade the fringe curtain that protects my brain crystallises, I do know that it is usually accompanied by thermal underwear and general discomfort.


On the scale of chilly, nippy and bloody freezing, frozen nostril hairs rate a ‘seriously cold’.


However, what is seriously cold to me, wouldn’t be for everyone. For example, someone from Vostok, Antarctica or who works in a fish finger factory, might find a similar day to be positively balmy and regard me as a sissy…whereas someone from Fiji likely wouldn’t even leave bed.


The more you travel, the more you realise that meteorological extremes tend to be relative. Early morning in equatorial Africa often sees people heading to work wearing woolly hats and thick sweaters even though the temperature would likely be considered nice and warm by anyone from the northern hemisphere. But after only a week in the tropical heat, you too find yourself rummaging around for something heavier until the sun has returned to full-strength.


Although I like to consider myself a fairly hardy sort, I must confess that it’s only a few days before I forego morning showers in favour of afternoon ones when bush camping, or dive for the sweat pants and windbreaker around the evening campfire. The most agonisingly painful showers I can ever recall took place in early morning South Africa along the banks of the Orange River, and late evening Tanzania on the rim of Ngorongoro Crater – two places not exactly renowned for frigid temperatures. Yet, after days of sweltering heat, they were quite the ordeal and I can still remember the water and air being ‘seriously cold’.


So, next time you’re travelling somewhere exotic and you scoff at the brochure’s description of ‘cool mornings’ when you know the temperature is warmer than the average diner breakfast, give some thought to the extremes of the day and remember that ‘seriously cold’ doesn’t always have to involve nostril hairs!



Photo and post by:  Simon Vaughan




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