Living in the Tundra

I have often hinted that my location is in the “Tundra.” Not to offend any caribou or polar bears in the so-called real tundra, I have to admit that, no, I’m not quite that far north. Some days it feels like it. Other times we are blessed with rain instead of snow and strangely warm weather instead of cold. This coming week will not be of the tropic variety.

Preparing for a week-long onslaught of high temperatures in the single digits, low temperatures below zero and wind chills way, way below zero takes a bit of planning. I personally hate grocery shopping in frigid temperatures, so I plan accordingly. When there’s snow on the ground, there are less parking spaces in the lot. That’s because the snow plow guys build a great big mountain of snow in one corner. It’s also hell to push your cart  across a snow-packed parking lot. I remarked to one check out clerk that the carts should have skis. She was not impressed.

I have different pieces of outerwear for varying temperatures. I started doing this when I lived in the Twin Cities, where it can be brutally cold in the winter, and for a very long time. Over 40 degrees, and I can get by with leather. A nice wool coat does fine between 30 and 40 degrees. I have a parka for the 20 to 30 degree range. Anything below 20 degrees, and I get out the fur.

I’m sure the animal lovers and PETA cringe at the mere mention of fur. I’m unashamedly a carnivore, so why wouldn’t I make use of the rest of an animal’s body? After all, I’m not making coats from dog or kitty, or hamsters. Having had different coats in my life, the consensus is that the warmest outerwear is made from fur, then down. My one fur is Mongolian lamb, a kicky little coat I purchased from eBay because it reminded me of a coat I had in Minnesota that was subsequently destroyed in a housefire. The other one is something I can’t even pronounce. I can proudly say that no American animals were harmed in the production of either garment. One came from Mongolia, the other from Canada.

The other pre-zero Tundra preparation is to make sure the hats are located and the gloves and mittens have mates. I don’t know about anyone else, but my household loses more gloves and mittens than socks in the dryer. I don’t understand it, because I keep all of them in baskets above my china cabinet. Every winter, I take the baskets down and for some reason am usually missing one or more glove(s).

This year, I have also had to consider Grace, the dog. She’s a Boston terrier, and when it’s colder than 20 degrees and there is more than a couple of inches of snow on the ground, she doesn’t like to go outside. I have attempted to allay her fears and her chills by getting her a coat to wear and by shoveling a clear spot to do her business only a few feet from the deck. We had another blizzard last night, so I was out shoveling my grass. I’m sure it’s comical to see, but it’s a necessary precaution to avoid in the house accidents.

When it’s this cold, I also have to refill the humidifier in the music room about four times a day. That’s four gallons a day! If I didn’t, my violin would go quickly out of tune. I also have to make sure my flannel lined khakis are washed and available, and that I have plenty of wool socks.

I only have 24 hours before the temperatures take a nose dive, so I will be off. Anyone who complains of their supposedly “cold” weather and I find out it’s above zero will get no sympathy from me.

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9 Responses

  1. Pande,

    I’d tell you the temperature here, but I value your friendship.

    Dr. B

  2. jeez, that sounds cold. I’d say you fully qualify for ‘Tundra’ designation.

    Here in Sydney we’re forecast a heatwave this week (and probably some bushfires). This means I’m wearing nothing but sleeveless tops and knee length skirts and that, with my absurdly fair skin, before I leave the house I have to liberally coat any exposed surface in SPF 30+ sunscreen, and carry insect-repellant in my bag in case I’m still out after 6pm. I have to wear my hair up all the time because its so hot and humid I can’t bear it down my back, and anything on my feet other than flip flops is torture. And after my 15 minute walk to work it takes me a good half an hour to cool off in our air conditioned offices.

    Just so you know 😉

  3. The cold I can deal with. It’s the danged 50 mph winds that bug me.

  4. I couldn’t do it. Even looking at the weather where bf is makes me cringe and start to shiver.

    More power to you love.

  5. I couldn’t do it, either. We had one series of storms here that were very mild compared to what you get and the city ground to a stand still. So no. I could not do it.

  6. It’s so cold in my office that my fingers are blue on the right hand. This is because Mr. D turns the heat completely off at night. It’s noon before I feel human again.

  7. Pan, you should make yourself a set of “beanbags”. Partially fill a couple of old unmatched cotton socks with rice and tie or sew them thoroughly shut. Then you can put them in the microwave and heat them up, and put them in your pockets. A flat version made from an old pillowcase (sew channels into it, to make sure there’s some all the way across) will let you have someplace warm to sit.

    Warm is important.

  8. Ah, I have one of those, given to me by the Sick Man’s mother. It’s called a bed buddy. I don’t know what it’s filled with, but it’s great for neck spasms, which I get a ton of.

  9. I don’t have an objection to fur worn in cold climates in order to keep warm. I think it’s awful to slaughter a leopard just to wear its pelt, but the original purpose of furs is a good one. They’re warm.

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