This week the cold arrived, with temperatures down to 2 C overnight, and daily highs of 10 C. Now, as a Canadian, I realize that's hardly something to complain about. Coming from a land where the national past time is to brag and boast about extreme weather ("-34 C yesterday... -50 C if you count the windchill"), one could hardly be impressed about a near miss of that freezing mark. And even though we've lived in Lotus Land for the past few years, Brad and I both have a lot of extreme cold under our belts (a short stint in a Yellowknife winter for one thing). Despite all this, I think we both can honestly say that we've never been colder.
Now, those of you who've been reading for a while may remember my bitter moaning earlier this year about the cost of heating (€250 for January), and you may remember my moaning about the lack of insulation. So I can hardly spend a blog complaining of the fact that there is nothing between our floating floorboards and the cement slab below, or the fact that our chimney lacks a damper (a foil balloon is doing the trick), or the fact that we have no less than 7 open holes in exterior walls of our home that qualify as "fresh-air-vents". Rather, today's topic is about the, not-so-famous, Irish love of cold.
I have a number of examples to illustrate my thesis: that the Irish truly don't feel the cold and, in fact, they often embrace it!
-When Claire came in September, she spent much of her time freezing cold... while our student spent an equal amount of time feeling too hot.
-Sundresses and t-shirts appear as soon as temperatures breach 15 C.
-Brad's office mate leaves their window open year round, to ensure fresh air (requiring Brad to wear two sweaters around the office).
The examples are endless. However, at this week's Toddler Group, complaints of the cold (a favored Canadian past-time) finally broke through. And universally, everyone agreed that this week, they finally had to turn their heating on (I bit my tongue and failed to mention that our daily heating habit started at the beginning of October, when temperatures first went down to 5 C). Mind you, everyone only heats for about 1 hour in the morning... with some people, perhaps, heating for another hour in the evening, if it's really cold. We practice this strategy as well, since we like to spend less than €100 per month on heating; however, the past few nights Nikolai has been waking up a lot... I assume it's from the cold... since turning on the heat tends to solve the problem (we do have him in a vest (undershirt), pj's, thermal socks, under a cotton quilt, and under a wool duvet, so it's not like he's being neglected... it's just that 2 C outside means about 5 C inside... thanks to the 2 vents in Nikolai's room. We also have tried to stuff them up with plastic bags... but it's not the same as actually having insulation).
So I took my issue to my friends... and have found out that:
1. Sleeping in cold air is good for children, as it prevents asthma (this is likely true in Ireland, because sleeping in a warm, well insulated house would most likely also mean a house infested with the very pervasive black mold. We have it, despite our good ventilation, in the bathrooms and around the front door.)
2. Irish children wear snowsuits to bed. (Not exactly snowsuits, but polar fleece full body suits ...feet and everything... that are worn over the pyjama's and under their blankets. At the moment we're trying a little more heating... but we may end up investing in a snowsuit before winter's out.)
3. If Nikolai can't handle the cold at night, then perhaps we're heating too much during the day.
So now that you have read the body of evidence for my theory that the Irish love cold; let me tell you my hypotheses as to why this is the case:
I. (Roman numerals this time, since it is a pseudo-scientific theory). There is no such thing as a real summer, so in order to believe that 20 C is a heat-wave, the you have to believe that 15 C is warm.
II. In order to not spend 1/10 of one's income on heating, one must learn to love the cold... and wear wool.
III. As mentioned previously, insulation = black mold = persistent coughs.
IV. A number of older homes still need to burn fuel to heat. Bog peat fires = nasty smoke = international condemnation for the destruction of bog = persistent coughs.
V. (Brad gets credit for this theory... derived last weekend, when a cycling buddy showed up for their ride in shorts and a windbreaker, despite the frost) In Ireland cold seldom kills, so they don't need to worry about the cold... as it's nothing more than a minor discomfort; whereas, Canadians (and anyone who's suffered from frost bite) have a culture of fearing the cold.
Well regardless what the reason is... I am going to have to thicken up my skins, as I have spent most of this week trying to get warm... even when the heaters are on. Anyways, it's a long weekend for us and the fun fair has come to town, so I'm off to ride the tea cups!