Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tropical Winter

I bought a blanket the other day, a blithe little tartan in shades of rainbow sherbet and made of cotton, I think--definitely not wool or even acrylic. It's the size and shape of an over-sized beach towel and adds just enough heft to the sheet I've been snuggling under for the past month to prevent me from reliving the night that I woke up shivering under its light weight.

Well, perhaps not a shiver--but a definite feeling of light chill awoke me and sent me out later in search of something a little more...comforting but not a comforter. Especially not the polyester duvets I've seen in Thai markets, looking a lot like a slumberland version of Crocs, brightly colored and potentially slimy with sweat.

It's odd how quickly heat becomes the norm--I left a city where I slept under a lightweight down comforter constantly, except for a few weeks in midsummer. The light and warmth that I'd longed for in Seattle fell upon me like an ancient curse..."Be careful what you wish for..." when I first arrived in Bangkok. Now, in "winter" with its slightly lower temperatures that would constitute a heatwave in the Pacific Northwest, I wear longsleeved tshirts and wish that I had brought my fingerless gloves to wear in the airconditioned arctic blasts of the skytrain and subway.

This is the time of year that residents of Thailand yearn for, in the same way that Northwesterners wait for their several months of summer sunlight, buying fans and lightweight clothing that they will use as often as Bangkokians will use the sweaters and hooded jackets that fill the market stalls now. Although you never know--one of my first delighted glimpses of the idiosyncratic fashion sense of this city was on a scorching day when I saw a girl in the shortest of shorts, with the upper portion of her body securely wrapped in a brilliant pink pashmina, because after all you just can't be too careful--the temperature could plummet all the way down to 90 F or 30 C in a heartbeat!

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