Posted by: scribe9 | August 12, 2010

Winter in the Antipodes

When I went into my office this morning, it was 9 degrees. Granted, that’s Centigrade, but it’s still pretty chilly. Fortunately, my trusty little ceramic heater was up to the task of raising it to 20 (68F) so that I could move my fingers with some alacrity and think about something besides how cold my toes were. 

Yesterday morning as I did the dishes, I was very grateful to have my hands in hot, soapy water. My feet–in socks and shoes, and standing on a rug–were going numb. It reminded me of a story Rick told about a student of his, who went to university in Dunedin, down on the South Island where they have winters like Portland’s and houses built like those in the subtropics. One Saturday night he and his roommates threw a party. The next morning, he went into the kitchen and almost broke his neck, because the beer spilled on the kitchen floor had frozen into a sheet of ice.

Sure, we could crank the heat up and have the entire house at 68F all the time, but that would use a lot of electricity, given the total lack of insulation and double glazing. It also would not be the Kiwi way.

The Kiwi way is to say “She’ll be right,” which means to accept the fact that things are uncomfortable or downright difficult because you’ve gotten to what is considered good enough, which is not necessarily, and can be very far from, good. On the one hand, it’s great that Kiwis aren’t terribly materialistic (except in Auckland -)). On the other hand, low expectations aren’t always in the country’s best interest.

The best thing about the cold weather is that it’s dry. It’s great laundry weather, and we don’t have to run the dehumidifier much because the humidity is finally below 95 percent. See? I’m putting a happy Kiwi face on it!


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