By Jeff Tome
People deal with the weather in many kinds of ways. Some people grumble. Others grouch about. Some are absurdly cheerful, no matter how cold and rainy it is. Some are simply practical about it. I would like to put myself in that practical category. I don’t like being cold or wet or too sweaty. It just happens.
I thought about this as I took my puppy for a walk the other day. It was 35 degrees outside, pouring down rain, and dark. The puppy, frankly, had to poop and that couldn’t wait for a change in the weather. The puppy also has thick fur that my daughter describes as duck-like. It sheds and holds a lot of water without getting the dog’s skin wet.
The dog wanted to get some energy out and go for a nice long meander around the neighborhood. I bundled up with a thick warm hat, gloves, winter coat, waterproof boots and headed out into the rain. The dog was indifferent to the weather and wandered about like normal. No one else was outside. We wandered three quarters of a mile around the neighborhood, stopping at fire hydrants and lampposts and favorite hay bales, before returning home dripping wet.
This is where the practical side of me comes out. Did I want to go out into the icy rain for a nice long walk? Not really. Was there an option? Not really. All in all, it was just something that had to be done, so I bundled up and did it.
Weather comes up a lot at Audubon. Teachers bring children out on field trips and invariably mention the weather. “We had perfect weather this year” or “Wow, that weather was miserable!” For the most part, Audubon staff and volunteers come out of these walks comfortable. Every day is, frankly, a day that you have to go outside, teach, get children excited and explore interesting things. Nature educators bundle up, throw on their waterproof/sun-proof/most-comfortable-for-the-weather clothing and head out.
The choice to be upset at the weather isn’t really there unless your goal is to be consistently upset and frustrated. The weather will always be there, so the goal is to be as comfortable as possible no matter what it’s like outside.
This isn’t possible for everyone. Not everyone has the money and resources to have outdoor gear that is good for the cold, rain, snow, and other less optimal weather conditions. This is especially hard for children to have, since they are always growing out of their clothes and it is very expensive to buy whole new sets of winter gear each year. Others, in the middle school age range, may think that being warm and cozy is uncool. You may see these children at the bus stop dressed in a t-shirt on a winter day, pretending to be fine.
Warmth can be hard to find in the winter. I have taken great joy in the clotheslines full of hats and mittens that pop up around town in the winter, free for anyone who needs them. I find great delight in staying warm and cozy and love seeing people help others do the same. Not everyone can invest in the warm clothes to do that and I am thankful for my warm clothes.
The truth is that the weather is ever changing and we have to adjust our clothes and our moods to change with it. Getting frustrated and mad at the cold is an exercise in frustration when you live in the lake effect zone. My puppy is reminding me to greet every day with joy and curiosity as we explore the cold, wet, snowy and gray weather of winter.
Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature. ACNC is located just east of Route 62 between Warren and Jamestown. The trails are open from dawn to dusk and birds of prey can be viewed anytime the trails are open. The Nature Center is open from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. daily except Sunday when it opens at 1 p.m. More information can be found online at auduboncnc.org or by calling (716) 569-2345.