If there is one thing worse than a cold winter it’s having the flu during a cold winter.
Back in the summer, which seems to have ended just a few weeks ago but in truth petered out sometime in late September, I was complaining about the 105-degree temperatures and looking forward to cooler weather.
Yesterday morning in Denton, Texas, I awoke to a brisk 23 degrees. We seem to have skipped fall and ran headlong into winter. At 23 degrees, it’s wintertime. Fall is 65. I enjoy fall. Winter is painful.
And it’s just mid-November. Winter actually is more than a month away, based on the calendar. Based on my personal dread of cold weather, winter started yesterday. The gas logs in the fireplace have been lit; the thermostat settings have changed from AC to H. The sheets have been converted from whatever we use in the summer to flannel. My office work uniform also changed from blue jeans and tee shirts to blue jeans and sweatshirts. My flip flops have been stored until April. I’m trying to find my wool socks.
My afternoon libation has evolved from ice water or cold soft drinks to hot tea—preferably Earl Grey.
And just yesterday I received a press release from a North Texas health organization recommending that everyone hasten out to get a flu shot. If that’s not a harbinger of winter I don’t know what is. Of course I lined up early and got my shot the first of October, back when temperatures were still balmy and leaves were still green.
I don’t want the flu. If there is one thing worse than a cold winter it’s having the flu during a cold winter. I don’t think I’ve had the flu in several years—a piece of wood requires knocking here—and I don’t care to break that string of good fortune if I can help it. I can’t control the weather—if I could, we would maintain a constant temperature of about 75 degrees year-round. Except for maybe three days of cold weather around Christmas and a brief hot spell in July. Other than that, 75 is good, with rain every Monday.
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I can control, at least to some degree, my chances of contracting influenza, which can be a nasty experience. I recall as a kid we used to come down with it about every winter. There were seven of us in the house and the illness seemed to jump from one to the next, stretching the discomfort out into weeks for my beleaguered parents, who ended up getting it too but managed to continue taking care of us anyway.
I can get a shot. Already did, as I said. I can wash my hands, frequently. And I can try to avoid staying in close proximity to anyone who seems to be feeling poorly. So don’t be insulted if a runny nose, hacking cough or sneeze turns me away. It’s not you — well it is, but you will understand if I keep my distance. I’d recommend you take precautions, too.