Yes, it’s cold–but you don’t have to be

It takes single digits to turn salt water to slush

It takes single digits to turn salt water to slush

It’s here, the cold, the crisp, the invigorating single digit weather that is a Maine trademark.

The projected temperatures for this weekend indicate a big chill, and you can hunker down with warm slippers and a good book, or get out there and embrace the cold.

Reveling in it is my choice, and I grab any chance to be on the ice or in the snow. This means dressing for serious cold. You can’t walk frozen ponds; have breakfast in the snow, or track animals if you are cold and shivering. It is fun outside in winter. The views are better since they are unobstructed by all those summer leaves, and there is a feeling of camaraderie with fellow winter lovers.

Not sure how to prepare? Here is my hit list of winter essentials:

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

Cold and wind are no excuse to stay inside. (Photo from previous winter, ice is not ready yet.)

Cold and wind are no excuse to stay inside. (Photo from previous winter, ice is not ready yet.)

Hats

I love fur. It is warm, beautiful, and resilient. It doesn’t tear, pill, stain. Wool is also good, but whatever you choose get those ears covered. Make sure you can tie you hat on. A hat that can blow off will leave you bareheaded in a strong wind, and you’ll be back to being cold and miserable.

Stormsocks

These are amazing. Made with Macro-Porous technology, whatever that is, they are windproof and waterproof, and still breathable. I do not wear anything else when winter hiking, snowshoeing or ice-fishing. My feet are dry and toasty warm. After years of wool with silk liners, that got damp or sweaty and cold, I never even think about my feet in winter anymore. My toes are all 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 because 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. And, bonus, they last for years.

Boots

These need to be waterproof and insulated. I have had my Bogs for many years. I got them because I liked the pull-on handles, but Muckboots are similar. Arctic Sport IIs are pretty tempting, and since I have finally worn out the Bogs, these are on my Christmas list. I also have an old pair of 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.

Base Layers

I have tried polypropylene, 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 silk 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.

Hands

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

The rest of you

You will want something insulated and moisture resistant. 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. (I named this suit after a character played by Diana Rigg in The Avengers, a 1970’s TV series). 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.

Is it really, really cold? Add goggles and a chin mask. They keep your face and nose and eyes warm. When not one bit of skin is exposed cold temperatures and ice pellet laden winds are safely on the other side.

Winter is here, we can’t stop it, so get out there, be warm, and have fun. And please say “Hi” if you see Mrs. Peel.

 

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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.