Monday, December 21, 2009

Warm and cold are relative

When the cold really hit this month, I was ready. I put on my silk long underwear (black because if you have to wear long underwear you should at least attempt to be sexy or feminine under there.) I shifted from my short winter jacket to my long down coat, I replaced wool gloves with thick wool mittens, cotton socks with hand-knit wool socks, and I put on a hat.

That first cold was very cold - 12˚ below zero. The sheep had frost on their muzzles, the trees had frost on their branches, and ice crystals filled the air. Sun dog rainbows circled the sun.

Our dog, Carly, isn’t a sun dog. She is a wood stove dog. As the days get colder, she gets closer to the wood stove, soaking up the heat. We all spend more time in the living room, gathered around the stove. Our bedroom, upstairs, is cold, but a down comforter keeps us warm and snuggly – only our noses get cold, and fortunately, both Dave and I like sleeping with cold noses. On the other hand, I can’t snuggle beneath a comforter in my study, so I wear a fleece vest, fleece jacket and pants, fingerless wool gloves, and that black long underwear to work.

And then it warmed up. Overnight, the temperature rose above zero and I took off my mittens and down coat to go for a run. Warm and cold are relative. Once we’ve had the subzero cold to begin a winter, the average days seem really quite nice. When the temperature gets up into the twenties where it has been recently, I run with only a couple of layers and my windbreaker is usually unzipped. Just a little more snow and we’ll be able to ski across our fields and into the state land, the water fowl production area behind our house and we won’t even notice the cold.

When the weather first turns cold, I think how lovely it would be to visit Arizona or Texas, common destinations of snowbirds from around here. But then my body adjusts to winter and I feel invigorated every time I walk out the door. And if I don’t walk out the door as often as I do at other times during the year, well that’s part of winter too, a time to settle in, write, skirt fleeces, dye wool, card wool and knit. With the outdoor chores done, winter is a time for us to relax a little, to rest up for lambing, just two months ahead. And lambing, why that’s the first sign of spring. So, on the first day of winter, I can see the first day of spring.

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