Why is it so warm when it’s so cold?

breafast in the sun, with Mrs. Peel

Breakfast in the sun, with Mrs. Peel

The thermometer reads nine degrees, but it feels rather warm out. This is the flip side of early October, when anything below fifty makes me shiver and go hunting for my gloves. I guess I have been hardened off, just like a tomato seedling in June venturing from the greenhouse to the big mysterious world outside.

It has been a long cold winter, and some people are sick of it. Others are resigned, while a few cling with joy to every last bit. Whichever camp you fall into, if you are here in Maine, your choices are three. Leave it. Change it. Accept it. This  is Eckhart Tolle’s summation of how to deal  with life, and while I can’t always manage it, I like the concept.

Change it. Changing it is pretty unlikely. Some crazy sci-fi images of green plants drifting down from the sky to devour the snow are rather pretty, but reality says this isn’t going to happen.

Leave it. That is a very reasonable thing to do, and many do. I would like to spend every winter in Spain, but then I would not be spending winter in Maine. Choices are always hard. But if cold, short days have you grousing and miserable and watching TV, maybe a seasonal job shift is in order.

Accept it. This has two options. The first is resignation, but that does not seem to be a lot of fun. The other is to revel. That’s my choice. But you can’t walk frozen ponds, have breakfast in the snow, track animals, and hunt rabbit if you are cold and shivering.

It is March, and I am so acclimated to the cold that I really don’t need my hat or mittens unless the wind picks up. But back in October at 45 degrees I pulled out my all my winter gear so I could venture forth, my head focused on animal tracks or cloud patterns, fun and pleasurable, not focused on freezing fingers or wet feet, not fun and pleasurable.

When I talk about how much fun we have outside in the winter, many people get it, but some don’t. They say, “Sounds great, but I hate being cold.” Well, I hate being cold, too. It is no fun if you are cold, so here are my basics for getting out there and being warm.

Cold and wind are no excuse to stay inside.

Cold and wind are no excuse to stay inside.

Most heat is lost through feet or head, so let’s start there.


These are amazing. They remind me of wetsuits, not sure if they are neoprene or not, but they are windproof and waterproof. I do not wear anything else when skiing, snowshoeing or ice-fishing. My feet are dry and toasty warm. After years of wool with silk liners, that did get damp or sweaty and cold, I never even think about my feet in winter anymore. They are warm and happy. These socks are snug, and take a bit of work to pull on. The first time is hard, but once you have worn them they are easier to pull on. They also come in several weights. I like the heavier, they are more durable. My thin pair I have worn to the office, but when I wore them skiing the back of the heel wore out after one day.  So, heavy for sports, thin for daily wear. They last for years, so worth the high price. www.rei.com/product/729121/seirus-stormsocks-socks


I love fur, warm, beautiful, resilient; doesn’t tear, pill, stain. Wool also good, but get those ears covered. Whatever hat you get, make sure you can tie it on. A hat that can blow off will leave you bare-headed in a strong wind, and you’ll be back to being cold and miserable.

Base Layers

I have tried polypropolene, it makes me sweat, and I don’t like that. Wintersilks thermals come in several weights. Like storm socks, the lightweight wears out too fast for my liking, but the mid and heavy are great, though more costly. They have many styles. I have leggings, sleeveless tops, and three-quarter length sleeves, and long-sleeved tops. I have given these as gifts, and most recipients are converts, starting their own collection of Wintersilks. www.wintersilks.com


Mittens, of course. Then your fingers can buddy up and share warmth. Since I like to photograph and write outside, I wear Wintersilk glove liners inside my mittens, midweight, so I can pull off the mittens, and still have some protection from the cold.


Waterproof, insulated.I have Bogs, because I like the pull-on handles, but Muckboots are similar. I also have Sorel Joan of Arctics. They are great for ice-fishing, but too heavy for a lot of walking. And, super self-indulgent, I have shearling-lined goat fur boots. I think they just might need a story all to themselves.

The rest of you

Something insulated and moisture resistent. Sometimes I wear snow pants and a Northface jacket, but mostly I wear Mrs. Peel, my name for my one-piece red-silk lined Descente ski suit. (The Avengers, Diana Rigg, check it out, she was a 1970’s role model). She and I can go anywhere. One piece is really comfortable, and you can bend over, do sunrise salutations, skid down a hill, and not worry about snow getting up your back. Look for one-piece suits on ebay.

Really, really cold? Goggles and a chin mask.They keep your face and nose and eyes warm.

Oh, none of the brands mentioned know I mention them, no kickbacks for me!

Winter is hanging in, so since we can’t change it, get out there, be warm, and have fun.

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Karen O. Zimmermann

About Karen O. Zimmermann

Karen O. Zimmermann savors chance encounters with people throughout the state of Maine, and is endlessly delighted with the tales they have to share.