Really, you can't help associating the words "cool" and "cold" with blessedness if you've lived in the tropics most of your life where summer never ends. Here in Nigeria, pubs and other establishments offering recreational services (including pay sex) often include the phrase "cool spot," in their establishment names to conjure appropriate notions of comfort that attract patronage.
Yes, it is summer all year round here in Nigeria, and for most of us natives, it is difficult to avoid associating the idea of perpetual summer with the antithesis of paradise. Everyone nurses a horror of exposure to cold, but it gets so hot and sticky around here sometimes that you want to spend the night in your deep freezer.
The only time I recall feeling specially blessed about living in the tropics was while I read Anthony Beevor's haunting description in his book Stalingrad
, of the unimaginable suffering of German and Russian troops in the Ostfront
during the great winter of 1942-43.
I recall actually looking out of my window at the sun and thanking the good lord for his mercies on natives of the tropics.
Photographs and movie scenes of snow tickle the imagination of little kids in the tropics. The notion of weather that gets so cold that ice falls from the sky stretches the imaginative powers if you live in a world in which temperatures almost never drop significantly below 20 degrees Celsius. Young eyes widen in amazement when an acquaintance who has seen winter weather in the northern hemisphere attempts to communicate an impression of the experience with reference to the kitchen freezer.
Little kids in the tropics have an inexhaustible list of questions about winter in the northern hemisphere: What does snow look like? What does it feel like? Is it really ice? Where does it come from, heaven? What happens if you leave a glass of water is the open, does it freeze-up?
The child who is told that snow is ice will sometimes contest the truth of the statement: "It isn't ice. I have seen it in the movies. It is like cotton wool, not like ice cubes."
The wise teacher explains, "It is ice, like the frost that lines the freezer wall."
The child nods knowingly at the new insight. But before long he has another question: "How does winter cold feel on the bare skin?"
The answer: "Stick an arm in the freezer for 10 minutes, you'd get an idea."
But, really, that isn't a safe answer to give a curious 10-year-old. You may need to keep your freezer under lock for weeks to avoid an accident when a young person decides to experiment.