Saturday, 22 December 2012

Cold (Κρύο)

As I was cooking this morning, the house felt warm. Perhaps it's because I was moving around. But when I sat down with the whole family at lunchtime to eat, I felt cold - so cold that I ate quickly in the hope that this act would warm me up. That didn't happen, so after I gulped down all my food, I moved into the bedroom where I keep my computer. Right now as I write, I'm freezing in my own home. But as I think and type, I don't feel the cold. Keeping yourself occupied stops you from pre-occupying your mind with how cold it is. I could take a blanket and cover my legs (they seem to be the coldest part of my body), but you can't move around easily when you are huddled up in a blanket. I move around a lot: I forget my camera in another room, I want to find a book, I need to check a pot or pan, I nibble on a piece of bread or cheese, inter alia.

We don't use the central heating in our house even though our boiler has heating oil. That's for yiayia; she doesn't have a wood fire like us, and she has to use something to keep her warm. She heats her house in complete oblivion to our situation. What do you tell an 88-year-old who lived through the war and saw her father and brother shot dead by the Nazis? Nothing. We light the wood fire at night when we know everyone will be at home - right now, some of us are in, others are out, and those that come in will leave after having their lunch, so we won't be back home together until late. There's no point in lighting the fire for one person, or even two people. We need to be alotgether, so we can get our money's worth.

The kids don't complain about the cold at all. They don't even think about it. At their tender ages, they are used to it. It's cold, as it always has been. What's new? When I ask them if they're cold, they say they aren't. But I feel cold, I tell them. But I don't feel cold, they tell me. I wonder if they are pretending. Maybe I'm just spoilt, because I remember a time when we never needed to be cold. We just pressed the button and the house warmed up in less than a quarter of an hour. Now the house never really warms up. Only half of it. The living room is warm, but the rest is just OK. Except the bathroom. That's freezing. Must be all the tiles.

My son finished his Christmas homework this afternoon, which consisted of writing a summary of one of his favorite books. He chose a Julia Donaldson title: Charlie Cook's Favorite Book. He wanted me to help him, so I told him to come into the room where I was working. Without a second word, he slipped under the blankets on my side of the bed and began writing. (He doesn't really need any help from his mother for his homework, but he always says he does because he knows I'll give him a kick-start.) He's already sorted out a mechanism to protect himself against the cold, since that's what he's used to, I suppose, when there is no heating working in the house. That's maybe why he doesn't  feel the cold in the first place.

My husband came into the room. Shall I light the fire? he asked me. But we'll all be in and out for the next two hours, I reminded him. He looked at his son, huddled under the blankets, knees bent to support his books as he did homework, and then he asked me again: Shall I light the fire? Before I said anything, my son said YES! Well, I guess it's really cold then, if he says so.

Of course, it's not really THAT cold where we are: it's about 10 degrees Celsius outdoors at the moment. I don't know what the temperature is indoors: when you feel cold, you don't need to consult a gadget to tell you if it's cold. But it's much much colder in other parts of Greece; in the north, the temperatures go into the minuses. Cretan winters are relatively mild. But they are still cold. Just not that cold. And the cold doesn't last as long as it does in other parts of the world. What''s more, at least I can be absolutely positive that when the weather does warm up again, it's gonna stay that way.

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