posts tagged with 'cold'

cold nights

Putting the boys to bed this evening I warned them that it was going to be cold: maybe the coldest night of the year! In their bedroom, at least. Because they have their windows open and their fan on. But don't worry, they're piled up with all their winter blankets. Good sleeping weather. It's forecast to drop into the mid forties overnight, and it already feels pretty chilly. Not chilly enough for me to wear socks to bed, though! I tried yesterday, on another cool evening, but I could only stand a couple minutes with them on. I don't actually know if it could ever get cold enough that I'd be able to keep them on all night. Maybe winter camping? Or maybe we can try keeping the fans on into the winter!

we're hardy folk

It got cold this past weekend. Not super cold, like single digits, but certainly lots colder than it has been for a while now. Which is hard when we're not used to it; also, cold feels colder when there's moisture in the air, which is the case when the temperature takes a sudden drop. But we didn't want to let winter being winter keep us from playing outside this weekend! Saturday morning, Harvey and I started the day with a couple hours of riding the trails in Landlocked Forest (the good thing about below-freezing weather is no more mud!). We were chilly as we got started but warmed up well before too long. Then after lunch the smaller boys and I rode up to the skate park to meet some friends. By that time there were clouds threatening the sun and the breeze was picking up, so there were moments when saner folks wondered if it was time to go home—or at least reminded their kids to keep their hoods up. Zion took off his shoes for better traction climbing on the half-pipe. Between the skate park and the playground we were out for close to two hours and had a lovely time.

Then yesterday other friends invited us to join them at Great Brook Farm for a hike. Seems they'd had plans to meet another family there, but when they backed out citing the cold weather we got the call. Because you know that if you ever need a cold-insensitive B-list family, we're there for you! In the sunshine it was actually quite pleasant and we all had a fine time sliding on the ice and climbing on the rocks. In fact, Elijah's friend even fell waist-deep into the icy water fully half a mile from the parking lot, and he didn't die! I will say, though, that while we are pretty hardy, I'm glad it wasn't any of my boys who went in. Cold air is one thing, but we do have limits!


my favorite weather

It got cold yesterday, and it was cold all day today. I love it. My favorite time of day when it's clear and cold is first thing in the morning or later at night, when the air is so still that I can go outside without putting on all my winter gear and experience the cold and quiet without feeling chilled myself—as long as I don't stand around experiencing too long! I just went out this evening to close up the chicken coop and make sure the hens were all cuddled up together, and it was a beautiful welcome peaceful moment after a day full of fun and conversation with kids and friends. Of course, this being the broken winter it is the cold won't last long... but I'm sure enjoying it while it lasts.

too warm today

I was back on the bicycle this morning, and ready to brave the arctic vortex. Yesterday it was -14°F when I got up, so I was mentally preparing for some intense riding; and physically preparing too, with my best cold-weather outfit yet. Wool socks, fleece boot socks, winter boots; long underwear, jeans, and rain pants; t-shirt, long sleeve shirt, flannel button-down, fleece shirt, spring jacket with hood (I don't like riding in real winter coats for some reason). Then I had my muffler and my extra big hat—Drumlin Farm sheep's wool and a fleece ear band—and my two layers of fleece mittens with ski mitten covers to go over them. I was so warm and cozy... disappointed to see the temperature was all the way up to 7°F.

Of course, I could still wear all that stuff; the only thing I left out was the ski mittens, since they make it hard to operate the shifter. But I didn't absolutely need them—my trip into work wasn't a desperate trek across frozen tundra, against all the odds. It was nice, though. I stopped on the way to do some sliding on the ice of Spy Pond, which is about perfect; unlike all the smaller ponds its ice wasn't so compromised with snow on Christmas day. I wished the boys were there to enjoy it with me, because it won't be perfect anymore after tomorrow's forecast blizzard! Oh well, snow is fun to play in too.

And as for cold, it'll be back too: Saturday is supposed to be the coldest day yet. So maybe my outfit will get another chance.

ice on Spoy Pond

the gleaming expanse


new year's musings

the moon over some trees

New Years Eve moon

It's a new year! As always, we begin it full of hopes and aspirations, and also exhausted and ill from partying the old year away. Today the boys and I tried to pause and take stock, and set some goals for the week (it's good to start at a reasonable scale; years are intimidating). The older two want to work on building better Pokemon decks, which is reasonable considering the amount of time and mental space Pokemon has occupied for us over the past week. I want to do better at scheduling working time and playing time, so we can all play—including Pokemon—without me feeling stressed and guilty and yelling at everyone for not working.

It's hard, as the holiday season hangs on to the bitter end. Today we spent all afternoon playing at at our friends' New Years Day party. But before then I managed to get some important work done, installing a heater for the chickens' water. See, it's been really cold here—never above freezing since Christmas Eve, and well below most of the time. In the past I've just brought the waterer inside overnight when it's cold, and then let the hens drink in the morning until it froze up again for the day... but that happens in less than an hour lately. And when it freezes solid, after three hours or so, it takes like half an hour under the hot water in the sink to thaw out. So, the heater. Which we've actually had for while; Leah bought it a few years ago, when she was the primary chicken caretaker. But we never used it since I was nervous about water and electricity and hot surfaces around the hens. We'll see how it goes, but right now those seem like lesser problems compared to them dying of thirst in this bitter cold desert.

Another result of the bitter cold desert air is that it's keeping us inside. The boys, anyways: Zion's and Lijah's little bodies cool down so fast, and when Lijah wears all the clothes he needs to stay warm he can't even move. But we're staving off cabin fever so far; there's so much to do in the house. So far, at least. Take a look at this seven day forecast!


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.