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My First Winter

Notes on stinging ears and icy fingers from a tropical girl.

The end of winter came very swiftly. The months of January and February sped by without me even relishing the events. After the short winter days and jam-packed months, I can finally breathe and reflect on what I have experienced so far. There is so much for me to write about that I don't even know where to begin.

The most remarkable thing for me I first noticed was the cold. Coming from the tropics, I'm accustomed to the temperatures that barely change. It would take months before the temperature significantly dipped, when the year-end monsoons would come and storm the skies for weeks. But you would never see more than a 5-degree drop in a day. You would dress lightly, and you rarely worried about forgetting your sweater if you ended up staying out late.

Here, forgetting my scarf makes for a tough walk back home. Moving up the hemisphere, you learn to anticipate the fluctuations in the atmosphere.
I've taken up the habit of checking my phone's weather widget every 3 hours or so. The temperature can drop 10 degrees during the evening, and if you aren't prepared, good luck on the way home. I've also learned to choose the correct sweater, footwear, and headgear before heading out. The cold seeps through openings in your clothes and shoes, so you have to be dressed properly. Something I discovered is that during the moments I can surprisingly manage the cold, the air is quite dry. The French often differentiate a more humid type of cold, which is more unbearable. But I hate it when it's windy. My ears burn when I don't wear a tight-fitting bonnet.

Curiously, I find it more pleasant when it snows. I guess the beauty of the snowflakes gently floating with the breeze distracts me from the cold, and I get that weird satisfaction of hearing the sound of snow crunching under my boots.
A few of my friends here say that the winter this year is more bearable. 10 years ago the snow would reach knee-deep, but due to global warming, each winter that came saw less and less snow. I still find it cold enough to consider it an adventure worth chronicling. It was a great first experience, and I'm sure that next winter I will be more prepared.

Spring is at the door. I have seen a few cherry blossom trees awaken from their deep slumber. I've never seen one in real life before. They're really beautiful all covered in mist, bright pink against the brown and barren landscape. I took the photo above on my way to work. I can't wait to see the landscape in full bloom.

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