Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cold Comfort

Winter is an internal season. I've been emailing friends to tell them I'm still on the planet even though I haven't responded to emails, phone calls, or even comments on this blog. We're feeling winter quiet. The snow muffles sounds, even the ones we have not made. We spend a lot of time indoors-- baking, reading, creating Access databases. It's very quiet stuff.

When we do go out to hike around, it's a major undertaking. We put on layers and layers of clothing, wools socks over cotton, wool sweater over turtlenecks, thermals under jeans. Down jackets over all. Almost as hard to get into and out of as our wetsuits, and as time consuming. It reminds me of when I was a child growing up in New Jersey. After the big snow storms (the ones we used to have before global climate change), we put on our snowsuits to go out and play. We wore boots that fit over our school shoes, and big jackets and puffy leggings that made a swishing sound when our skinny legs brushed against each other at every step. It's hard to imagine how we ever had fun wearing all that clothing, but we did. But none of it really ever kept us warm enough. Our fingers froze in mittens. Toes went numb in boots. But we'd still stay out so long that for some time afterwards I couldn't see anything in the house when we finally went back inside.

When I think about it now, being warm in winter is really a luxury. Hard to imagine, but it's true. It's expensive to buy boots that will keep feet warm in 10 degree (F) temps. A pair of WigWam Wool socks cost nearly $10 a pair. I wear a down jacket that I bought over 20 years ago when I lived in Colorado. There was no way to spend a winter there without the warmth that down provided. When I put that jacket on, the wind chill can be 20 below zero (F), and I am warm as toast. What happens to people who can't afford that kind of luxury?

This is the kind of winter coat I wore in 1962:
The advertising says:
For ultra-luxe wintry style, here's a cool jacket to keep her warm. Perfect for layering over fitted sweaters and hoodies, this jacket's sueded shearling construction lets her bundle up in super-soft, extra-plush lining. A bit of embroidery adds a girlish touch.

Product Details:

* A Faded Glory garment
* Girls' jacket
* Faux shearling has the look of suede with wool trim
* Plush lining
* Faux-wool collar
* Zip front
* Long sleeves
* Two on-seam pockets
* Floral embroidery on the pockets
* Floral-embroidered patch pocket on the upper left sleeve
* Color: Camel
* Fabric (shell): polyester
* Fabric (back, trim): acrylic, polyester
* Care: machine wash cold; line dry

Faux wool! It is a misery to be cold. So much of winter clothing-- winter coats, gloves, and hats sold in giant box stores simply do not provide protection from the weather. I wore all that stuff when I was young. My favorite coat, when I was in third grade, was a hooded furry thing. It made me look like I could brave the Artic chill. Imagine the coat pictured above with a faux fur hood, and you've got it. I remember when I begged my parents to buy it for me. Oh I looked as chic as could be, but I froze my buns off every winter day that I wore it. I loved that coat, but what drek. Why would anyone market a coat for winter that does not keep you warm?

I think about those things now when we walk out into the snow. How much more I love winter, the frozen earth, these frigid temps because I can be in it, without suffering. Such a luxury. I wonder how many people flock to warmer climes from the places of real winter because they never had warm enough boots, gloves, coats?

Well, we are deep in winter and feeling very quiet these days, but we are warm. If you are out there in the land of ice and snow, we hope you are warm too.

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