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.

7 thoughts on “Cold

  1. It is definitely hard to get motivated to layer up and head out, at least for me. I’m glad the wrist warmers are working for you! I like your game of how many people can I make smile today. It can be infectious!

  2. I’ve lived in NH all my life and still hate the cold. Come July and August I will be sitting outside with a cold drink sucking up all the heat I can muster. You won’t hear me complain about the heat. I know it doesn’t last nearly as lond as the cold. Bring on the spring! 🙂

    • Hi Cindy, I spent many years seven degrees above or six degrees below the equator. When I came back to NH I told myself I would never complain about the cold. This year has been a real good test of that vow!

  3. The light from a smile is as important as that from the sun at this time of year when everyone is getting a little grumpy and impatient for spring.
    Having a nature blog means that you get outside no matter the weather and as you say, as long as you dress for it, it isn’t that bad. You really do get used to it.

  4. Martha, you certainly know how to celebrate the cold! Good on you! And I love your game of seeing how many people you can make smile. I play the same game, particularly with the serious gentleman at my favorite Indian restaurant. Every time it’s a game to see if I can get him to crack a smile. 🙂 ~Terri

  5. I’ve kind of missed the ice and freezing temperatures here this winter. It really has been unaccountably warm for the time of year and very wet. Your smiling game is something I often play. It seems to me smiles are contagious and the smiles I give out to out smiles on one face are soon passed along to others. It’s a nice thought that one smile can brighten a whole city.

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