I went birding on St. George Island earlier this week. The temperature was 46 degrees when I arrived. I exited my truck and began shivering. My, oh my. I was cold at 46 degrees! How times have changed.
I once scoffed at cold weather. I could have easily, with no ill effects, run happily naked through a frozen snowdrift.
I never did that, mind you. We didn’t get a lot of snowdrifts, frozen or otherwise, in south Alabama when I was a lad. Also, I’ve never possessed a body that was really suited for running naked through anything, season notwithstanding. I likely would have been arrested, if not for indecent exposure, for murder. Most onlookers would have surely died laughing.
Nevertheless, had weather conditions and a more flattering anatomy warranted, I certainly had the physical stamina for cold-weather cavorting in the nude. I was always one hot-natured individual.
Right up until about a decade ago, that is. As soon as I hit 50, my blood became considerably thinner and my long-suspected Eskimo heritage proved to be mere fantasy. Now I get cold at the drop of a hat. Heck, I’m shivering right now just writing about it.
I’ve always been concerned about deer hunting on cold, windy days, but it was never the cold itself that vexed me. Twenty feet up a swaying pine tree in a stiff breeze has never been my idea of a good time, regardless of air temperature. Now, however, I have two reasons not to hunt deer from a treestand when the wind is blowing. Not only do I run the risk of being blown from my lofty perch, but now I’m also likely to freeze to death during my ascent.
When duck hunting these days I’m all but hypothermic five minutes from the boat ramp. I worry about having to set the blind afire to thaw out. I’ve ignited dry-grass duck blinds before, but never on purpose. And can’t you just see me trying to calibrate lead on a bluebill or canvasback while shivering like a chilled Chihuahua puppy? True, I now have a legitimate excuse for missing every shot, but I’m also liable to die in the process.
Oh, the humiliation. I’ve become a cold-weather wuss. All my buddies will now be catching fat rainbow trout from frigid mountain streams while I won’t dare set foot in them on a summer morning in June. It’s sad and disappointing. And the derisive laughter of hardier companions is bound to be devastating.
Worse, how am I ever going to explain to the rest of the boys that warmth is the only reason I’m snuggling so close to them in the tent? I mean, those guys don’t mind an affectionate pat on the back now and then, but they shy away from cuddling, especially when the cuddler looks like me. Heck, I can’t even get hugged by grown women anymore. Even ugly ones.
I know, I know. They’ve got all these hi-tech keep-warm gadgets these days, everything from chemical-reaction hand and foot warmers to electric socks. I’ve tried them all. Wound up parching my toes, blistering my fingers, and shorting out while wading across a cypress bog. Coffee doesn’t help much anymore either, unless you count the teeny bit of warmth generated from walking to and from the deer stand or duck blind for those countless answers to Nature’s calls.
But hey, maybe I’ve no call to so selfishly complain. I could, after all, reside in South Dakota like a certain long-suffering friend of mine. He swears there are but two seasons in that state: winter and road construction.
For the next few months I reckon I’ll just count my blessings. I’ll start as soon as my teeth stop chattering.