Winter brings two things.
Winter, of course, brings rather more than two things — considerably more. It brings, for example, unpleasant temperatures (a few mornings ago it was -30 — that’s 22 below zero for the Celsius-impaired), it brings totally unnecessary amounts of snow (‘unecessary’ is a matter of opinion, of course, but it’s hard to maintain a sense of perspective when you have to dig out the front porch AT LEAST a million zillion times, it brings darkness and despair (no clever paranthetical expression for those ones) and it brings squalid rooms full of partially clad sweaty men (we call it hockey).
But none of those is what I was thinking about. The two things that I was thinking about were disease and curling (specifically, learning to curl).
Perhaps a little explanation is in order.
People get sick in winter — everyone knows that. (I have no idea if it’s true, of course, but everyone knows it.) Usually this means the dreaded (but common) cold, but winter (at least hereabouts) is also flu season. Yay!
Now, I am not a physician (even my wardrobe says so) but I know a few things about the flu. First of all, I know that getting it sucks: after all, every year a significant number of people die from it. Most people don’t, of course, but it’s still far from a picnic: it hits fast, it hits hard and it’s extremely debilitating — it’s several days of utter misery. (A few years ago — okay, maybe more than a few: it was 1957– Robert Heinlein made the comment that when you had a particular condition “you don’t die but you wish you could.” He wasn’t talking about the flu, but he easily could have been.)
The other thing I know about the flu is that it’s a political football. Well, vaccination in general is a political football due to the widely propogated comments of ill-informed celebrities. With the flu there’s all that and more — in publications from peer-reviewed medical journals to non-peer-rviewed blogs and everything in between.
“Flu vaccine contains formaldehyde and mercury so it’s POISON!” “Yes, they’re there but in harmless amounts.” “Oh yeah, flu stats are largely fabricated.” “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” “Well, you’re a dangerous crank.” “And you’re ugly.” “I may be ugly but your mother dresses you funny.” And so on.
What do I think? I think that I don’t know enough details to say anything definitive but I do believe the risks are low and the payoff significant (getting the flu does, after all, suck) so most years I — we — get the shot. This year an extremely unhappy four year old almost ruptured our eardrums but other than that the process was painless — even given my well-known hatred of needles.
Of course, not everything works the way it’s supposed to. In particular, we got the flu — or at least something with symptoms indistinguishable from the flu. When the other half of my list(learning to curl) showed up…
Ms. Rose is a curling instructor and coach. Me? Not so much — I’ve taken a course but she’s more experienced, far more patient and much much more articulate. (I’m always dangerously close to shouting “ALL RIGHT YEW MAGGOTS! DROP AND GIVE ME TWENTY!”) On Sunday nights there’s a drop-in curling clinic where people from off the street can get competent and professional (well, except for me) instruction in the basics of curling. Someone had to go, Ms. Rose was sick, I wasn’t (yet) so… off I went.
It had been snowing — quite a lot — so the roads were kind of sloppy. The sidewalks were even worse; at an intersection I passed a young lady floundering through deep snow. She wasn’t wearing Branta droppings but was wielding an extremely odd — but orange — accessory. (No kilt though. Field hockey players traditionally wear kilts. I’m pretty sure Sister Rose used to wear a field hockey kilt to curl in. Hilarity ensued.)
I spent the next two hours not yelling about Musca larvae and trying to figure out where (and why) one might play field hockey in a snowstorm. I couldn’t, so I decided it must have been a fashion accessory.
I totally don’t get fashion.