posts tagged with 'cold'

how we deal with cold weather

The cold weather is upon us. I react by switching over to my winter outfit: long underwear, wool socks, and lots of layers on top. I love the cold, but I hate and fear being cold. So I wear the right clothes; the two things are connected. Harvey, on the other hand, doesn't need any such precautions. Today the temperature was maybe peeking into the 40s and, after a few minutes of running in the yard, he had to take his boots off because his feet were hot. At Market Basket the other day the elderly cart-retrieval man commented (positively!) on his choice to wear shorts with the windchill in the 20s. And while he has a new winter coat, he hasn't felt any need to wear it yet—just its fleece liner, over a t-shirt.

Lijah also hasn't worn his coat much, but that doesn't mean he's as cold-tolerant as his big brother. On the contrary, he complains bitterly whenever he's uncomfortable—yet still tries to go out for the morning walk in cotton pajamas. He said a blanket over him in the stroller would be enough; I convinced him to at least put on a sweatshirt and hat. (The hat is important, actually. When you're three your head is like 40% of your surface area, so...) For playing outside this afternoon I actually got his coat on him—the first time this year—as well a pair of actual pants over his PJs. No boots, though: only slippers will do for this determined boy.

Still, we all adapt in our own ways. We're getting used to this cold thing. Now all we need is snow; this morning we were placing bets on when it would show up. Do they make snow slippers?



We observed the solstice this evening by staying up too late, so the long night wouldn't feel as long when we were sleeping. Also we talked about seasons and orbits and axial tilt yesterday in our school time. The boys agree with me: no matter what the calendar or facebook says, today shouldn't count as the first day of winter. It's already been winter for a while! We've had snow and we've had cold, and we've had snowball fights and gone ice skating. And had lots of hot chocolate.

Zion wearing lots of warm clothes, out in the sunshine

winter clothes

Some parents don't like the winter. Some kids, too. We know the key is good warm clothes—that, and a good attitude. There was a day last week when almost all the bus stop parents drove their kids between 50 and 100 feet to the corner, and sheltered them in their idling cars until the bus came. Harvey was reading a book sitting on the curb. Not only do we not mind the cold (outside—there are mixed feelings in the household on appropriate indoor temperatures!), we're actively hoping for some more snow. The boys' cousin Nisia, visiting from Senegal, is especially looking for a blizzard or two in the next week and a half. A blizzard, and the days getting longer: the best of both worlds!

Let's hear it for the winter solstice.


cargo cult

The Concrete Gardeners got a cargo bike. I like to think that we can take just a little bit of the credit for encouraging them in that direction, and to celebrate we just had to take a cargo bike ride ourselves. Of course, we're not in the southern hemisphere like some people, so it's winter here; and what's more it's turned cold again in the last couple days. I think it might be another polar vortex. But we didn't let that stop us! Or at least, it didn't stop three of us: Leah was stopped, but that was mainly a function of being eight months pregnant. And also she doesn't like the library as much as we do.

Facing near-unimaginable cold (well, not as cold as this morning or yesterday, but still) we bundled up well. For the boys it was two pairs of pants and sweaters, fleece coats, and down jackets, all topped off with fleecy mufflers. I should have taken pictures, but I didn't want to take my mittens off; it was something like this, only more so. And then I put a big wool blanket over their laps. The whole setup would actually have been sufficient for a far longer ride in far colder temperatures: we were only going less than a mile each way at somewhere around 15°F (though with a windchill of 0°F!). But better safe than sorry! especially with Zion.

It all went beautifully well, and there was nary a complaint—not about being cold, at least. There might have been some murmurs about crowding, and also about being asked to leave places when not quite ready to do so... but we had to! Mama was waiting for us at home.


an argument in favor of more cold

frost on the window pane

no fancy window pane designs, just lots of ice

It's been cold here. Like, single digits: positive single digits yesterday, and then this morning, when I went out to give the chickens water, negative single digits. And I love it! I've already written at some length about some of my reasons (see this post for example), but there are a few additional ideas that have come to me lately.

One factor that I don't think I've mentioned before is my desperate panicked fear of change. That comes into play because, once winter is upon us, I don't want to give up one bit of our precious snow. And it doesn't even have to be above freezing for it to melt! 25° and sunny sees drips from the roof ind icicles forming—but 15° and below we're safe from anything like that. When it's winter I want the snow to pile up and up and up, a sentiment that I share with Harvey. Luckily we have plows to simulate the experience for us.

Dan, Harvey, and Zion climbing a giant mountain of snow

photo by Mama, who is sensible

With a little bit of time Harvey and I could turn that into a killer snow cave.

The other great thing about the cold is that it keeps the salt from working on the roads. I hate salt on the roads. On the highways maybe, but it could also be that nobody really needs to get anywhere that fast. When I see puddles of water on the road in 20° weather I wonder if all that salt can really be good for local plant and animal life. Of course, I already know it's murder on my car and bicycle; and the ubiquitous gray slush that piles up at the sides of the road (and then, pretty soon, everywhere else) is about the most disgusting stuff I have to deal with all year. No wonder so many Bostonians feel they don't like snow, when it's yucky and gray so much of the time. But not at 4°! This is what the roads looked like yesterday:

the intersection of South Road and Railroad Ave, with snow covering the pavement

no slush to be seen

I wouldn't have taken that corner at 25 miles per hour, but at a regular, calm rate of speed the traction was just fine. People were certainly driving fast enough, anyways! Ah, I wish it could always be like that, after ever storm.

And then there's the skating. New Years Day, after a wonderful brunch with friends, we stopped by Arlington's Spy Pond. With the snow in the forecast I wanted to get a chance to play on the ice before it all got covered, and play we did! (And then on the playground too). Our ice is too infrequently useful: either thin, soft, or absent entirely, or else covered with snow. If it stayed cold all winter the snow would blow off the big ponds and would be easy to sweep from small ones, and then everyone would be happier: who doesn't enjoy an evening on the ice?!

skaters silhouetted by the setting sun on the frozen Spy Pond

calm before the snow

Really, if it weren't for wanting to grow vegetables, I'd like it to be winter year round. Yay winter!


some kind of crazy

People called me crazy for biking to work today. It wasn't the first time, but it was certainly the coldest: our weather source told me it was -6° F with a windchill of -20. Sounds cold, doesn't it! So I suppose it's no wonder that my fortitude was remarked on. But really, it wasn't that bad. Frightened by the forecast (and the "Wind Chill Advisory" from the National Weather Service) I started out all kinds of extra layers, but ended up taking them all off and doing most of the ride with my regular winter (or late-fall-through-early-spring) gear. And I enjoyed myself tremendously in the clear sunny air, both riding and walking with the dog morning and evening. I think it's safe to say that I love being out in the cold.

Admittedly, I handle cold weather better than some other folks do, for whatever reason. Fast metabolism or somesuch. But just because I can stand being out when the temperature dips into the single digits doesn't explain why I enjoy it so much; for that, we have to enter the realm of psychoanalysis, which I do in this old post. Something else occurred to me this afternoon, though, which is why I drag this tired old topic up again. That is, it seems to me that many people's experience of the cold is powerfully mediated by the way the weather is presented in the media, and then by their friends and acquaintances.

After all, it was a sunny day. When the wind stilled it was positively balmy: I had some trepidation about taking off my gloves to make a repair but found that I didn't mind at all being barehanded for two or three minutes at a stretch. The very fact that some parents hurried their kids into school this morning without gloves, a hat, or even a coat for themselves suggests that I wasn't the only one to find the day survivable even without the right clothes on. So why did the principal feel the need to make an announcement at the end of the day letting us know that, while dismissal procedures were going to be normal, students should be aware that it is very cold out and should not linger before moving to their parents' cars. Can't they, I don't know, tell if they're getting cold and act accordingly? On their own? Maybe not, in Coldmageddon 2011.

Happily, it's possible for us to think and act for ourselves. One reason I enjoy being out in the cold is that the inherent pleasure I take in the weather is multiplied by the feeling of doing something counter-cultural. Sure, it can be a little annoying to listen to all the comments about my questionable sanity, but that's what you get when you don't do what everyone else is doing. Of course, I don't want to suggest that I'm somehow more virtuous than anyone else for wanting to stand around in the sub-zero temperatures. Not only, as I say, does it not really bother me, it also offers no benefit at all to anyone besides myself. But it does make me happy, and I don't need to listen to tv weathermen or coddled suburbanites tell me any different.


it's cold

The weather has turned colder here: yesterday was the first day where the mercury didn't make it above freezing all day, and today started off even colder. I tried a couple times to write an amusing—or at the very least interesting—post about it, but I couldn't manage it. I guess it's all been done before. Sorry. That's what happens when you blog consistently for five years, I suppose.

cold comfort

I like the cold. I'm not good for much in the heat—when the temperature gets above, say, 80°F—but given the right outfit I'm happy down well below zero. Not just in winter, either: I'll take all the cold I can get for sleeping, and I open my car windows as soon as I can in the spring (or on sunny days in the winter). The only problem is, I usually have to accommodate other folks who prefer things a tad more balmy.

Well, for the first time ever in my life, I am not the most cold-tolerant person I know, nor even the most cold-tolerant person in my household. Yes, with the heat of pregnancy burning inside her, Leah now throws off the covers when the windows are open and it's 40°F and raining outside, so yeah. Life is great!

By the way, the autocomplete informs me that I have used this title before; googling "'cold comfort'" tells me it was this post. Just in case you were keeping track.


feeling chills

I felt cold all day today. All the time that I was inside, that is—outside was sunny and warmish and very pleasant. I figured it was because the heat was turned down low, but it wasn't until a few minutes ago that I realized it was actually all the way off, at least downstairs. The upstairs thermostat, which is the visible one, was set to 55°F, and upstairs felt four or five degrees warmer, so there you have it. Also, when I turned the non-visible downstairs thermostat on—to 50° or 52° or whatever the lowest setting is on that analogue machine—the furnace immediately came on. So, a new record for coldness in the squibix household; I'm claiming 49°F. Woohoo!

putting the \"sweat\" in sweater

Last night Leah noticed a sweater on the shelf that I hadn't worn in some years, a sweater which she had in fact given me for Christmas. Why not? Well, the problem is it's kind of warm... in fact, the warmest garment I have ever worn, including my winter coat. An acceptable answer.

Well, when today dawned at two degrees below zero or so, I figured there was no better day than today to try it out again, and so I did. At least, I wore it when I was outside; I would not have survived if I had kept in on in the classroom, which anyways is kept at about 80°. Even outside though, I must say I was well more than warm enough when I was walking with the dog, to the extent that I had to take off my hat and mittens to keep from overheating completely. At under 10°F. Now that's an impressive sweater!

prayer for recess

It doesn't seem like the elementary school children are going to get to play in the snow at all during school hours. The policy, as I understand it, is that if even the wind-chill is below 20°F we all have to stay indoors; naturally, as that wind-chill rating is reached any time the air temperature is 26° or below and there is any air moving, we have a great many indoor recesses during the winter months. As what I think about the popular reaction to what's described as "cold weather" is well known around here, I won't reiterate it further.

In any case, even if we did manage to get outside the poor wee bairns wouldn't have an easy time having any actual fun. No picking up snow, no standing on snow piles, no going on the ice (or any vaguely ice-like patches of slippery snow), no sliding down the hill any other way than sitting up facing forwards... whoosh! Far be it from me to question the wisdom of the administration as expressed through the will of the recess aides—the liability is not mine, nor the need to handle any potential parent complaints—but I do take exception to the self-righteousness with which a few of the authorities enforce the anti-snow-fun diktats. I'd be amused to hear what their own winter recesses were like, lo these many years ago. A little different, I'd be willing to bet. Me, I harken back to the recesses described by Mark Twain and Laura Ingells Wilder, where the kids got kicked out of the schoolhouse for an hour or so and had to fend for themselves without any rules to keep them safe. As long as enough youngsters survive to ensure the continuation of the species, isn't that good enough for us?