By Kate Hopper

October 19, 2015


On the hottest days in San Vicente, I sit on the front porch of my host family’s house, sweat dripping from under my arms, dust turning to mud on my salt-streaked legs. I watch the heat shimmer up from the dirt road, dissolving into blue sky. On these days, I long for snow, hunger after the numbing cold of January in Minnesota.

The only way I know how to reprimand the heat here is to imagine myself deep in the north woods, zipped into a down jacket, my feet snug in furry boots. There I traipse through fresh snow, following my own footprints, shadowy and blue. Above me, naked tree branches wear thick sleeves of white. Flurries spin around me. If I stop my trek, I can hear the flakes fall; the freezing air fizzes with their descent. I open my mouth to the sky, let them melt on my tongue, trying to capture winter.

I have attempted to explain “below zero” to my Costa Rican family, translating my native Fahrenheit to their Celsius. “It hurts to breathe,” I say. “Cars don’t start. Ice covers the roads. It’s dangerous to drive.” I search my mind for examples that will make them understand cold, frigid cold, but I fail each time. Perhaps, like the heat here, that kind of cold has to be felt to be understood.


Photo "Frosted Chrysanthemum" provided by Montegregina, via creative commons license.

comments powered by Disqus « Back to Beautiful-Things

Newsletter Sign Up

shadow shadow