One Way to Stay Warm

Autumn has pretty much come and gone. The warm weather lasted much longer than it usually does. We have just started to routinely hit the freezing mark every night.

One of the most sure signs that winter is on its way is our furnaces have started kicking in. I love the noise-muffling hum of the furnaces at night in the winter time. It’s a sound that lulls me to sleep almost instantly.

I know I like to grumble, playfully, about the weather as we head toward winter. “Why would anyone in their right mind have settled in this deep freeze? The settlers must not have been very smart!” or “There’s nothing wrong with me that two weeks on a beach in Hawaii wouldn’t fix.” I actually cannot imagine being a First Nations person, here, in the winter, -40, wind howling, snow drifting against my teepee. Or to be a settler, living in an 8’ x 10’ log cabin, discovering where I had not chinked the walls well.

Fact of the matter is, I’ve lived here nearly all my life. I know that the cold and snow can start as early as mid-September or as late as November 1. I know we can have snow in any month of the year, including July and August. And I’ve seen chinooks (google that one!) that lifted temperatures in the dead of winter to 20C (68F) overnight lasting for a few days.

When you live here long enough, you appreciate a knee-length down-filled parka that is rated for -40. That’s where Centigrade and Fahrenheit meet, and on either thermometer it translates to ‘darn cold’. As a woman you have at least two pairs of winter boots: the dressy leather ones that look great but couldn’t keep your feet warm in the tropics and the heavy ‘snowmobile boots’ that are ugly but have great grippy soles and could be used to incubate chicken eggs. Likewise you have at least two pairs of hand protection – probably a nice set of kid-leather ‘driving gloves’ for when you’ll be in a warm car and a pair of thick ‘ski mitts’ that aren’t pretty but they’ll prevent frostbite.

winter runningOddly, from now until April is my favorite season for outdoor running. Yeah, I know. I need my head examined. At 5C (about 40F) I can run in shorts and a t-shirt as long as I have little knit gloves and a toque on.  I warm up nicely in 10 minutes, and then don’t overheat. Perfection!  

I chuckled as I was researching a half marathon I’d like to do in Las Vegas in February. I have to be there for a convention so I thought I’d play hooky (not hockey) on the Saturday morning to take in a race. The description said that it starts out a cool 45F and should warm up to 68F and that runners would want to wear ‘disposable layers’ to stay comfy for the ‘cool’ start. I’m pretty sure I’m acclimated for this one. LOL.

For every five degrees colder it gets I add one more layer, until -20 at which time I layer on a base layer (dri-fit long johns), a running tights layer, a polar fleece layer, and my ski pants. Ski mitts, a neck gator, a loose balaclava, an earband over top and I look like Thomas in Robert Munsch’s book Thomas’ Snowsuit. I may not be able to run fast, but I figure the extra 8 pounds of clothing must count for something in training.

As the nights, and days, start to get cooler I say ‘bring it on!’ I can outrun anything the weatherman can dish out.

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