It was an unexpectedly cold and frosty morning. Fate’s breath steamed and hoarfrost caked the trees, sparkling in the rising sun.
As I left the barnyard and headed back to the house, I was startled to see a naked Jon on the back porch. Not startled that he was naked even though it was 9 degrees out, just that I didn’t hear him come out.
He was of course taking pictures of the morning sun and how it lit up the landscape of the farm.
It was just a few days ago when the temperatures dropped way below freezing and the winds threatened frostbite that I questioned Jon about going out in his nightshirt and slippers. We had been preparing for the unusual cold that was coming for days. Jon read me warnings about not staying out too long and being sure to cover up as much as possible to avoid frostbite.
When I first saw Jon outside in his nightshirt, I was upset, even angry. I couldn’t imagine what he was doing, why he would go out in the threatening cold so unprotected. We talk all the time about how he is more sensitive to both heat and cold than he used to be.
What was he doing I wondered? Was he trying to get my attention? If so, he had. I wanted to open the door and yell at him as if I were his mother, not his wife. Or maybe he was trying to unconsciously harm himself. Did he care so little about his life, about our life together?
Instead of acting on my anger, I waited. And when my anger had subsided, I asked him about it.
Jon told me how he’d dress better if he were staying out longer. But he actually loved the feeling of the shock of cold he got going outside. “I sit inside at my desk most of the day”, he said. “It’s invigorating being out in the cold, it wakes me up, wakes up my whole body and mind.”
And when I heard what Jon had to say, I completely understood. How many times have I gone for a walk on the coldest or rainiest days because I needed the air to clear my head? Because of the problems with his foot, Jon hasn’t been able to go on long walks for months.
I thought about Florence, the woman who lived in our house for 80 years and died when she was 104. How she used to go for a swim in the lake up the road every day until it froze over.
So when I saw Jon, stark naked standing on the porch, camera in hand this morning, I smiled instead of getting angry. And that felt good, felt better than being angry.
I had made Jon’s going outside naked in cold weather about me rather than about him. I think it’s because I have unresolved anger in me. Like many women, I was taught that it was dangerous to get angry, so it manifests in other ways. It’s something for me to pay attention to.
All because I took the time to question and listen to Jon, I was able to see what he was doing completely differently. Now when he’s standing naked in the cold it looks refreshing to me.
It’s impressive really, you wouldn’t find me outside naked in nine-degree weather.