I have a friend in Norway. I met him on an excursion to Spain. We both wanted to bask in the sun on the Costa del Sol and dip our toes in the warm water. We took a train to Granada. It didn’t hurt that we both wanted to see authentic flamenco dancing and eat paella like natives. We write all the time and talk about various odds and ends. Sometimes weird subjects come up. He once asked me, “What do you do when it is too cold outside to smoke?” I laughed out loud. This should be my question for him given our respective locations.

Northern Europe gets very cold; in fact, it is even icy in Spain in January and hotels don’t have heat off season. I have no idea what real cold is like as in Norway. Growing up in Taiwan means balmy weather most of the time. There is no skiing, skating, sledding, cross country hiking in the snow, or ice fishing on a lake. I don’t even want to know because it is all so foreign to me. I have experienced a bit of winter while traveling but it was short term. I will have to get the low down from my friend and other residents of brutal climates. I have never put a cold country on my travel list.

So, Po-Chich, what would you do in such circumstances? What he means is how would I pass the time if he invited me to visit? I don’t even smoke. Ha! The question is moot. I would learn the sports of his country, take walks wearing gloves and a hat, and relish the beautiful snow-laden mountains. I have seen the photos and the scenery is grand. Cold is a novelty and I would enjoy it. I am thankful, however, that I live where I do. My friend smokes occasionally. I have seen him do it in a bar and while waiting outside for a bus. He never indulges in the house as his wife doesn’t put up with it. It is outdoors or nothing, she tells him. Again, I laugh. In answer to his silly inquiry, he answers that he waits for the wind to stop and he resumes his habit on the front porch where he has installed a portable electric heater. I found a web site with more tips, and sent it to him – https://www.nomoresmokesmell.net/cold-outside-smoke/. How clever!

I am going to be congenial and reinterpret his question to focus on what I would do if my life changed and I couldn’t do ordinary things. Would I adapt or give up? I am a strong person, so I confessed to him that I would manage, just as he had done at home. Life is sometimes about compromise and redirection. If you get married and have kids, suddenly everything is different. Smoking is a small issue compared to major life changes. Little did I know that my friend’s question would turn into a philosophical discussion.