Saturday, July 09, 2011

Is It Cold?

It is by Perth standards. Once the night temperature drops below 4 degrees C we're shocked. Below 1 degree C we're apt to think we're about to freeze solid. Now I have lived where winter temperatures are much lower than this and I don't remember feeling the cold as much as I do in Perth's relatively temperate climate. So why does it seem so bitterly cold here when the temperatures dip towards zero?

It's a combination of various factors, I suspect. Our summers are hot - by many standards very hot with mid summer temperatures averaging 30-33 degrees C and not uncommonly reaching between 35 and 38 degrees C - so 4 or 5 degrees C feels really cold in comparison. Then there's the fact that, until it actually gets cold here, we tend to ignore the possibility that each winter it can - and will - happen. So double glazing is a rarity as is central heating. Some folk do use reverse cycle air conditioning but it isn't the most common form of heating. Then we get a cold spell and suddenly realise we are unprepared.

As well there's the fact that there are only a relatively few days in the year when this happens so investing in cooling seems generally more economical. You can put on an extra sweater, can't you. Unfortunately just now an extra sweater and a rug aren't cutting it. Yesterday I ended up wearing three sweaters, track pants, thick socks and finger less gloves (so I could type) and it was still not enough. So I did what most Perthites, at least those stuck at home all day, do - guiltily put on the gas furnace at full for a few hours during the day. Why guiltily? Because we don't do that the way people in cold places do. This is Perth, after all. It's fine to heat the house at night but during the day it just doesn't get cold enough to justify it even for those of us who work at home - except, of course, it does.

Don't get me wrong. There are places in Australia where it does get really, genuinely cold, much colder than in Perth at its worst - Tasmania and the Southern Alps spring to mind. Both have have snowy winters and, as we found out while visiting Tasmania last year, snowy spring and summer weather as well. Even the southern inland parts of Western and South Australia have chilly winters. But those are cold places and that's not how we like to think of Perth.

But how we like to think of it and how it is are two different things. Perth does get cold in mid winter, however much we might like to think it doesn't, so I'm caving in. The heater is going on again today so I can dispense with at least one sweater. Then I'll look nearer my true size and shape and be able to move, even bend if necessary. Who knows, acknowledging the temperature might just make me more able to work instead of wondering if my fingers and toes, currently almost numb, will start functioning again.


Rosanne Dingli said...

It's colder than we've felt for a while, but I have no guilt pangs about running the heater during the day. I also think of the blast-furnace heat we get in summer (which I hate, hate, hate)and revel in the ability to wear socks, trackie pants, jumpers and jackets, and socks - put an extra throw over my knees, my shoulders - the bed. Did I mention socks? Make soup, stews, and lamb shanks, mmm. I venture into the garden, where I do not go if it's too hot, and note the citrus trees heavy with fruit. In Winter, all the different greens come out to inspire - in summer they are hidden by glare. Oh, I revel in this. The tip of my nose falls off, but hey, that's better than burning in 38 degree heat.

Helen V. said...

We're opposite then, Rosanne. I love the summer and hate the winter.