Living in a tropical climate gives one a degree of forgetfulness. Even with frequent weather reports from around the world, the details are not the same as being there. In Singapore, I am consciously cold when the temperature drops below 80f/25c. I forget that the rest of the world has seasons that are more than hot and even hotter, rain and more rain.
I exaggerate, however spending a weekend in Amsterdam reminded me that I have forgotten what winds, dropping temperatures, and biting cold feel like. I wish I could say that my experience was in late January when it is really cold. Instead, I am reacting to a rather balmy fall day. It was a wonderful mix of sun and rain, falling leaves, and crisp mornings. There was no snow, ice, or driving winds. Yet, there were moments when I was sure that my core had dropped below safe levels! Relatively speaking, it was cold to my body that had lost touch with the seasons.
The good news is that I had fallen back on the trusted use of layers. In general there were four. Each added to the other, helping out in ways I do not always understand. In the end, with my layers protecting me, I was able to walk and shop the 9 streets, enjoy frites with mayonnaise on the street corner, and safely navigate the bicycles. A couple of times I left my jacket unzipped and ended up seeking refuge in a store or café. Given the Dutch apple pie and coffee, I suspect that it was subconsciously intentional.
As I left I found myself reflecting on the ways layers made the difference. I had protection that increased with proximity to the elements. When it was safe and warm, I could unzip and freely move about. Out in the elements my normal vulnerability was guarded so that I could free move, enjoying life, finding a special shop or two with interesting items. It reminds me of David’s observation; “Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God of angel armies protects us.” (Psalm 46.7)