kolmapäev, september 05, 2012

bundle up

So that you won't catch cold!
It's still summer. I keep reminding people around me but they don't seem to believe me. Honestly, this year has been so cold that I am thinking of writing a depressing novel in Estonian called Külm Aasta, if it hasn't been done before, because so many Estonian years would qualify. The novel would be set in Viljandi and involve disappearing cats, local oligarchs, grimy drunks, and folk musicians.

But that's not what this post is about. As I was saying, it is still summer, but the Estonians think otherwise. So when it is warm and sunny out, they seem puzzled. "Kui imelik, päris suvine ilm," somebody remarked to me yesterday, "how strange, what nice summery weather." I answered "Jah," but what I was really thinking was, "Of course it feels like summer, it is still summer, damnit!"

I should get a t-shirt made up that says  "Sept. 22" on the front and "Autumn Equinox" on the back. I don't think anybody would believe me though. For Estonians, fall begins on Sept. 1, the first day of school. End of story.

Clothing at this time of the year never suffices. It is either too cold or too warm. A cool breeze hits you as you walk outside so you put on a light jacket. By the time you are walking back from the store in the warm sun you notice that you are sweating. You take off the jacket and another breeze hits you and all of a sudden you are cold again. It makes me wonder if I should get one of those full-body track suits that middle-aged Italian guys wear. No matter the season, you are always comfortable!

A glance out the window provides no useful information. At the first instant of a cool breeze, Estonian mothers begin swaddling their children, a practice that will continue until May or so of next year, when they just might let their child leave the house his or her head uncovered. This morning I spied the neighbor boy collecting firewood wearing a thermal hat, an insulated jacket, and boots. It looked as if it was about to snow! But when I stepped outside, except for  a cool breeze blowing off the lake, it felt like t-shirt weather. It's still summer, damnit!

The official explanation for all the swaddling and bundling that goes on in Estonia is that it's done, "so that you won't catch cold." I am not so sure I believe in this. Is it really true that even slight exposure to cool weather will make one ill? I feel just as bad sweating feverishly in a heavy jacket on a warm late summer day as I do getting a few goosebumps in a t-shirt. It seems that there is no good option: both approaches could make one sick.

But these are questions, and the Estonians don't like to be interrogated about their customs. Things just are as they are, and that means that even if it is 18 degrees Celsius outside (64 degrees Fahrenheit), you better put on your woolen cap and winter jacket, "so that you won't catch cold."

Still, I feel bad for those little Estonian boys and girls who are forced to wear winter clothing deep into spring. Even on hot late April days, when the sewers groan with melted ice and snow, days on which most people would feel fine just putting on a light, long-sleeved shirt, you can catch sight of some poor youth trudging down the street in hat, scarf, jacket, gloves, thermal pants and boots, and holding the hand of an overprotective female relative.

This may not be the Arctic, but sometimes it sure feels like it.

15 kommentaari:

Marko ütles ...

It's a matriarchcal society, Giuostino. Altough the composition of our parliament or the board rooms of corporate business would make you to believe otherwise - don't be fooled! In Estonia, mostly behind the scenes tough, it's a womans world. Even the hardcore macho male IRL polititians will put on their wooly mittens and stupid looking ski hats if their wife, or more likely, mother, tells them so. As good boys always do. And if you would like to bring on some change on the matter, just speak to the ladies. Best of luck, as you will most definetly need it! Lol.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

The flip side of this is what you witness here on the mid-Atlantic region of the Eastern United States where it can get quite cold during winter - people being oblivious of the low temperatures. Literally, people walking around in flip-flops, t-shirts and shorts, blue in their faces on a sunny cold sub-zero day (celsius). What kills me, to the point of feeling tempted to stop some of them and tell them that this is actually child abuse, is when I see parents who are comfortably dressed wearing gloves and earmuffs etc. pushing a stroller with the poor kid in it who is withouts shoes, hat, gloves, jacket, you name it ... Unbelievable. Those who have seen it, know what I am talking about.

American disregard to temperatures, in my view, is manifestation of being divorced from reality in general. The results of this separation from the facts is often seen elsewhere in their outrageous endeavours. Like meanngless war campaigns, real estate bubble, financial melt-down and other, dopey rah-rah-rah, we are number one type of attitude. Unbridled enthusiasm wrapped up in ignorance.

But. Reality does matter. Conservatism is for real. It is not a slogan.

Arrrrrr ....

(Whew, it feels good to rant with the fresh cup of coffee in front of me ... I feel good! Good! Good!)

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Posting comments is like talking to the empty chair, Clint Eastwood style ...

Eh-eh-eh.

We all go crazy in our own ways.

saare-snowqueen ütles ...

Sometimes I wonder what country you're writing about. It rarely resembles the Estonia I live in. We all know Saaremaa is different, but - really......

Temesta ütles ...

"Like meanngless war campaigns, real estate bubble, financial melt-down and other, dopey rah-rah-rah, we are number one type of attitude."

That's quite similar to Estonia I think. :)
Estonia had it's own real estate bubble, economic meltdown, and blindly (but for understandable reasons) participates in the war campaigns of the US.

Christine ütles ...

*American disregard to temperatures, in my view, is manifestation of being divorced from reality in general. The results of this separation from the facts is often seen elsewhere in their outrageous endeavours. Like meanngless war campaigns, real estate bubble, financial melt-down and other, dopey rah-rah-rah, we are number one type of attitude. Unbridled enthusiasm wrapped up in ignorance.}

This post was about the end of summer in Estonia

Yet as always, it became just another opportunity to bash America.

Seriously... if its a warm sunny day in December why not wear light clothing.

Why is there some ridged rule that we need to have put on 4 layers of clothing and scarfs and hats when its 70 degrees in December.

This idea doesn't seem to work well for any of you. My son and grandchildren are sick constantly there and everytime they come here they arrive sick... and bring us here some wicked germs that take weeks of antibiotics to get rid of.

Germs spread easily when you are all stuck together in a confined space, in the dark, cold and gray, for 8 months of the year.

Germs cause colds & flu... not the lack of overly warm clothing .

*Small country, small minds ...

Mimi

Spawnie ütles ...

Just because Estonia is a small country, it doesn't mean it's a confined space. Or that people are more stupid than in a big country.

And for sure, Estonia is not the homeland of wicked germs. Both me and my kids have had very good health ever since we moved here, despite the largely inauspicious weather.

Christine ütles ...

We have a huge country with very many small minds.
I apologise for saying that but I am simply tired of the bashing and so I generalized in my comment.
... my family there and my grandchildren are sick all of the time, but I am truly happy that you and your family enjoy "good health".

Marko ütles ...

Christine, what goes around, comes around. And its not about bashing or who can spot the worst in a country you have moved to. People are different, sure, but problems are pretty much the same. Thats also where your backround comes in to it. If youre upper-middle class American first time round in Estonia, for sure you will notice some bloody odd things indeed. And if youre a working class Estonian just moved to the Big Apple, you might also get blinded by the big city lights and be fully ignorant towards issues and difficulties local communities over there are going through. Life works on so many levels, so it wouldnt hurt to take a step back once in a while and think about these things. Thats why I like this blog, it helps to make sense of it all and I wish there were more like it out there.

Eppppp ütles ...

I have lived in the US (NY area) and in Estonia and I have been down with the cold in both places, can't say that any less in NY than in Estonia. Public transportation and big stores are huge germ pools, and we don't use much of these in Estonia. Still, kids go to school and bring their germs home. As far as I know, people all over the world have these problems. Cold, stomach flues etc. No need to bash one country.
Anyway, as for clothes, I have noticed that people here in Estonia tend to have an "extra jacket" wherever they go, just in case, and mothers tend to bundle up their kids. In the US, on the other hand, I have noticed that kids wear much more light weight clothes even if it feels kind of cool. Who knows, maybe because I come from the bundle up culture :).

Christine ütles ...

"Public transportation and big stores are huge germ pools, and we don't use much of these in Estonia"

You have huge stores there too.

Nothing more to say here, it would have better not to have commented.

Lesson learned...


Christine ütles ...

"Public transportation and big stores are huge germ pools, and we don't use much of these in Estonia"

You have huge stores there too.

Nothing more to say here, it would have better not to have commented.

Lesson learned...


Rainer ütles ...

Oh Giustino, what ever happened to your next post - did Ephraim Zuroff get you? Or the Swedish authorities?

Paulmet Lemetsky ütles ...

Well, bundling up might have a certain logic to it - I just got back from estonia and I do regret not putting on trousers, shorts and sandals just don't keep the mosqitos from making my legs look like I have a bad rash. Everyone else at my fathers birthdayparty were wearing jackets, trousers and shoes.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

I love Vello Vikerkaar! Check out his latest:

http://vellovikerkaar.blogspot.com/


Fu-fu Fuuu ... nee!