Everyone is writing about the cold. I hate to follow the crowd but I thought I would see if I could put a little different spin on it. The days are getting noticeably longer; red skies in the morning appear as I’m typing away in my loft at 6:00am and my drives home at night don’t require headlights. Yes, it is bitterly, brutally cold. But there is a clarity to this season. Colors are muted and your senses feast on shades of soft gray and the stark green of pines.
I find people either turn inward, hunching against the elements as they go about life. Their shoulders round forward, heads bend to inspect the dangerous footing and eyes are trained on the task at hand. Or, they stand more erect, and fill their senses with what little stimulation there is beyond the cuttingly painful act of breathing frigid air. The difference of ten degrees warmer is felt with every pore. Today we climbed out of the single digits to 20°.
I hummed as I drove down the hills, running my Saturday morning errands. At the dump, I caught a stranger’s eye as we all shuffled from vehicles to recycling bins. I looked at this woman and smiled, side-stepping to let her pass. It struck me, as she smiled deeply back at me, “I wonder how many strangers I can make smile today?” I had my challenge a new game as I went out dumping bags and bottles. At the grocery store, I tallied up my list. Not bad, but time to add more.
Walking across the parking lot I caught three folks. Inside I racked up an impressive ten more. What was more surprising to me was how many strangers unconsciously started playing my game with others. Certainly, the “warm” temps outside had folks lifting their heads, so it was easier to catch someone.
A short trip to the barn looked like it would be uneventful. The wind was whipping and the thin sun did little to chase the chill. Lauren and I decided a simple walk to the 4-corners would be challenge enough given all the ice on the trails. I hopped on bareback, Lauren lead Blessing. It was less windy in the woods but the horses were still spooky at the creaking trees and slick footing. They were obviously happy to be out of their pasture and as we walked I noticed they didn’t watch their feet like my human counter-parts. Considering they have four to our two, perhaps that would be a daunting task. They trusted their balance and muscles to keep them upright, and were busy looking around at the woods.
To be out and happy in this weather, one plans and layers themself carefully. I won’t embarrass you with the details, suffice to say I have five layers between my skin and the air. I also have found the key to happy hands. Laura made me a pair of wrist warmers. They are soft polar fleece and velcro around easily. I slip a toe-warmer pack in each and I’m good to go regardless of how chilly it is. Warming the blood to your hands means you can pull off gloves to fasten buckles on blankets and tack at the barn. Your fingers stay warm without bulky gloves in all but the most freezing temps.
It’s January, it’s going to be cold. Find ways to crack the tendency to complain and get out there. You know we will all be sweltering and bitching about the heat in a few months.