After several months of real winter I am confident that I now know what cold means.
Cold is not just being able to comfortably put on that fashionable winter coat now. It’s bundling your limbs into a michelin-tire-esque duck-down jacket and a scarf made of material that could be used to insulate refrigerators. It’s not nippy toes and feeling a sharp temperature change on the back of your legs when you sit on concrete. It’s bloodless skin from your heels to your lower calf and standing up for hours because prolonged contact with inanimate objects will freeze your muscles down to the bone. Cold is not staying inside with a cup of tea under a blanket. It’s staying as far away from the doors and windows as you can, blankets wrapped tight like a sushi roll and mug abandoned on the side table because its contents went cold minutes after pouring. Cold is not wistfully missing the sun. Its the realisation after your first rays of Spring-time sun that at least part of your depression might have been absence of solar light and heat.
And it’s also the childlike fascination at frozen lakes.
Wide-eyed wonder at the power of the several inches of ice to sustain hundreds of skaters on its service.
Silent wonderment at the stark beauty of whole forests stripped of foliage. The harsh naked skeletons of trees and stones left waiting, thinking, in perpetually icy air for months.
Winter in Beijing has been a roller coaster of physical and mental shocks. But I’m back again now – get ready for a flurry of Springtime posts to much the cherry blossoms in the Jingyuan courtyard.