Absolute temperature


I know the idea of “absolute” gets paired with temperature now and then, as with the temperature absolute zero,* but in my experience, it’s all relative when it comes to how cold I’m feeling. In many ways, it’s not just about the cold, but about how prepared I am for the cold, and about my expectations.

If you live in a place where January means serious winter weather, you may be thinking that Sunny Spain would be a pretty nice gig about now. Since we arrived two weeks ago, we have had some nice days, I admit. But this week has been one of freezing rain alternating with not-quite-freezing rain (with a couple of episodes of hail)–for days at a time. Oh, and lightning, thunder, dark skies, and crazy wind.

We are huddled together, looking around for another blanket.

In our house in New England, we’d have no troubles–we have a heating system designed for worse, plus storm windows, insulation, blankets, carpets, these cool reusable handwarmers that rely on a little metal disk and a chemical reaction. Oh, and a fireplace.

In Valencia, our apartment has none of these. Marble floors are great in a heat wave, but shocking when the temp is as low as it is. Each time I go into the bedrooms at the end of the hall it feels like there are no outer walls, as the leaky, single-pane windows let you experience the weather as if you were out in it.

Like when the wall of the spaceship is blown out, and it's just you and cold space

Like when the wall of the spaceship is blown out, and it’s just you and cold space

In the living room there’s some sort of a fake fireplace thing with lights that flicker to look like flames under a plastic log-like pile, and a little space heater at the base, but it’s relatively feeble.



So while the orange and palm trees might suggest beach weather, occasional hail and lowering skies remind us that there’s still some way to go before then.

You’d think that coming from a place where the cold can be both intense and prolonged I’d experience the cold here as less of an issue. Our daughter Limonada has moved to Wisconsin, and she says she’s been largely reset in terms of sensitivity to cold. She grew up in New England, where we do cold in a big way, but she’s gone on to new heights. She came home at Christmas in leggings and a hoodie, and said she was fine.


A little winter weather in Madison, WI

Maybe she’s just tough (and she absolutely is), but it could be that there’s a limit to how cold you can get in the time it takes to travel from a heated car to a heated house. Our apartment is not particularly heated, and our car is entirely non-existent. So we layer up, lean into the wind, and overheat badly when we’re in public buildings.

It won’t last long, if our past experience is any guide. In the meantime, I think we had better get ourselves some of that super-thick Spanish hot chocolate.



*It’s the thermal answer to the question, “how low can you go?” In other words, -273.15° C,  -459.67° F, or 0° Kelvin.


[Images: mayoresanmiguel.blogspot.com, storiesofhalo, El Guapo, Wikipedia]











4 thoughts on “Absolute temperature

  1. Wow, we all thought you were basking in the sun! Hope it warms up soon. You make us appreciate our cold New England a lot more!

  2. Looking out on a snowy New England landscape through a well-insulated window, sitting in a comfortable room, is indeed a lovely thing! We’re bound to get nice weather soon, and our cold weather will have made us appreciate it all the more. Contrast is key, isn’t it?

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