The Cold Facts; or Frostbite of the Brain

Life in Buffalo is a Frozen Beach

Having a wonderful time...glad I'm not there.
Having a wonderful time...glad I'm not there.

Punxsutawney Phil over rice

Although the Theory of Evolution is a highly credible hypothesis based on scientific observation...personally I think there are a few flaws. Over the years I have developed a theory that not all humans have common ancestry with apes. Some of us can trace our roots back to the bear. Try to follow my logic here. If you were to wake a grizzly during his hibernation period he would display symptoms such as lethargy, overeating, depression, irritability, tension, mood swings and an unusual desire to oversleep caused by an increase in melatonin in his body's chemistry. According to the SAD Association, the indicators for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) are those same symptoms. Warm weather people, such as myself, are therefore more likely to be related to hibernating mammals. Those of us who claim this ancestry should be allowed to sleep all winter long. It was just such unfair treatment of the bear people that led me to seek asylum in Arizona.

SAD occurs throughout the northern and southern hemispheres with symptoms getting more severe the further away from the equator you get. This form of seasonal depression manifests itself in behaviors common to cold dwellers. High alcohol consumption as a means of self-medication is prevalent. Ask any tailgater (and Buffalonians even tailgate theater events) they will tell you they drink to stay warm. However, alcohol actually constricts the blood vessels which results in less cold resistance. But who cares when you are numb by kick-off?

Poets seem to bloom best in frigid climates too. Many poets abuse alcohol...are you still following my logic? I have heard that inhabitants of Nordic countries are wading hip deep through poetry to get the bar. It seems simple enough...the more time spent indoors sucking down booze trying to keep warm the more time one seems to spend contemplating one's navel and the more likely one is to sit down and write out the conclusions of such contemplation. Which brings me to my latest poetry collection...Ode to my Navel available at local book stores as soon as I can pry open my frozen car door to get to the printer.

There are a few benefits to living in a cold climate. We tend to age more slowly by benefit of a cryogenic like atmosphere nine months a year with no sun to leatherize our skins. Furthermore, it has been argued that complex culture is a response to survival in the cold. Even in pre-history the evidence points to more complicated societies in colder climes. The underlying assumption being that if the weather is warm and sunny there is no need to create diversion because people are too busy lolly-gagging in the sun. Only those dissatisfied with their environments (i.e. the damned cold) feel enough motivation to create something to replace their otherwise unpleasant reality. This theory helps to explain the current caliber of the Hollywood movie.

Some people claim they enjoy the brisk weather, biting winds, ice, snow, etc. They engage in winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, and ice skating. These types prance around outside all winter long with their color coordinated ski outfits with th zipper pull in the shape of a perfect snowflake. Their ski passes are displayed like a taunt to the rest of us who hide indoors all winter and practice weird little rituals that involve a puppet version of Punxsutawney Phil and a sun lamp. The winter people have rosy cheeks, hardy leg muscles and good attitudes. They also hate the heat. Personally, I believe they are the ones with SAD that has reared its ugly head as delusion. No one in his or her right mind likes to be cold. Some of mankind's greatest inventions such as clothing, shelter and fire come from the healthy desire to be warm. The first god in many cultures was the life-giving sun...not the iceberg.

For most of you in Buffalo who love your city but loathe the climate, eating becomes a winter sport. As you can well imagine, locking yourself indoors and eating non-stop can result in a great deal of winter weight. And after a heartbreaking summer where the rain never stops and you need a sweatshirt to go out after 5 p.m. there is no chance to wear off last year's insulation. So you add another 20 pounds of winter weight until, like the kid in the snowsuit, you can not lower your arms to your sides.

You want comfort food; warm stews, chicken potpies, hardy meals containing meat and thick gravy. Here is a soothing rich recipe that, although not diet, will not result in a larger pair of sweatpants.

Bollywood Chicken (4 normal or 1 SAD serving)

1 chicken cut into serving size pieces; 1/4 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper; 1 tbls each butter and olive oil - dredge chicken pieces in flower and brown well on all sides in a hot pan then remove from pan to plate

1 sliced onion; 1 sliced green pepper; 1 clove garlic minced; 1 1/2 tsp sweet curry powder; 1/2 tsp thyme; 1 can (2 cups) stewed tomatoes - quickly stir fry onion, pepper, garlic curry & thyme until veggies are crisp but beginning to soften then add tomatoes with juice. Return chicken to pan, cover and cook over low-medium heat until chicken is tender. Serve over brown rice.

While you get nice and toasty in your sham-wow snuggie by the fire I'll be at the zoo tomorrow communing with tropical flora and fauna. It's supposed to be 75 by 3 p.m. with plenty of sunshine. Tough break on the blizzard...don't forget to put that blanket, flashlight and two weeks supply of spam in your trunk...just in case.

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