When I was younger, much younger than most of you reading (I like to think I attract a hip, young audience to my blog that I sometimes write in once a year) I went to a small Catholic school in Florida. We were tiny, so tiny that when someone new came in it was like an alien had landed and we had to know everything about this person.
We once had a kid from Boston. To me, Boston was a foreign land full of small streets, loud voices, and leaves that actually changed colour throughout the year. Sometimes it would even be blanketed with this white material made of ice. These people called it “snow.”
Any way, this kid, John, always would laugh at us when the weather hit 50 F (10 C). We’d show up, bundled in our LA Gear jean jackets or leather bombers from Walmart (took me a year to save up for mine) and he would be there in a light jacket and shorts mocking us.
“This isn’t cold,” he would say to us as we stood there, shivering to death.
Fast forward a few years or thirty and I’m standing on a beach a few thousand miles from that school with a kiddo who is in his swim trunks and I think it’s 100% fine I can’t feel my bare feet in the frozen sand.
This is because in that short period between my youth and encroaching middle age I did this thing called acclimating.
When I first came to England I pretty much lived in a state of various bundles of blankets. Over time as I acclimatised to the darkness and occasional snows I began to appreciate that the moment the temperature clicked over 10 C / 50 F and you saw light you WENT OUTSIDE IN SHORT SLEEVES AND PRAISED THE ANCIENT GODS FOR RETURNING THE SUN TO YOU.
You do this by going to your nearest source of water (England is handy in being an island) and you display your gleaming white bodies while looking for ice cream.
As for the reason behind this tradition I’m not all that sure but it’s probably Roman.
Today we took part in this tradition, as it may snow again soon so we get it while we can, and if my frozen foot sacrifice means that gods deem us with a summer of greater than two weeks it was totally worth it.
As for my child, a being that has only ever experienced a few days of over 20 C (68 F) this is peak beach weather. Perhaps, one day, I’ll take him back to that town in Florida in January and he can stand in short sleeves and shorts and openly mock the natives.
Then circle of mocking will be complete.