Dec 4, 2013 - Personal    13 Comments

Relearning to Live in Cold and Snow

Winter has officially landed in Southern Saskatchewan! With windchill, we’re going to be in the -30sC/-20sF for the foreseeable future.

The weather turned really, really fast, in a matter of hours late Sunday night. I’ve been struggling to adjust to living in cold weather instead of just hibernating. I did that during cold spells during past winters, but I can’t do that for the full winter stretch!

How quickly the human mind forgets unpleasant things. It was not so long ago that I thought nothing of getting up in the dark on a frigid -40 morning, piling on the layers, coaxing my car to start, manoeuvring it down my icy laneway, driving 50KM to the city, parking, then picking my way carefully down icy streets on foot for half an hour to get to work. I had had a similar routine my entire life. This was the world I lived in and I did not know any better.

But the last few winters have really spoiled me and I’m struggling to readjust to the cold season being real work.

Being on my last propane tank, I made arrangements to have less work today so I could go get the 30lber and one 20lber filled, as well as pick up some badly needed groceries. Laura warned me that the road out to the highway would be slick.

When I woke up this morning and saw how nasty it was outside, the last thing I wanted to do was get dressed, navigate bad roads, and spend the morning running errands. But it had to be done.

I piled on the layers, starting with long johns, over which I put leggings, planning to wear my corduroy skirt. But it’s quite voluminous and I didn’t feel like having to deal with all the folds of material while wrestling with heavy propane tanks. I normally wear a skirt with a slimmer profile when running errands and doing physical work.

So pants. Since I had on the thermal underwear, jeans were an option and, since I’m continuing to melt, my smallest pair was about two sizes too big and fit nicely over both the long johns and the leggings. Add warm socks and the bottom half was cozy but presentable. I just put on two layers of polar fleece over my thermal undershirt.

I had a choice of coats, but settled for the short leather one L got me this summer. I have a nice long dress coat that is super warm, but it wouldn’t have been practical for hauling anything and my good leather coat that I normally wear in this kind of weather is about six sizes too big now. The short leather jacket is just big enough to wear a few layers under. I’m so glad L insisted on getting it for as it’s getting a ton of wear!

I added my winter boots, a scarf, a tuque, pulled up my fleece hood, and slipped into gloves then mitts. Whew!

I wound up being perfectly dressed for the conditions and activities planned for the morning and managed to look a heck of a lot more stylish than I normally do under the circumstances. 🙂

The road out was fine, although I had to take it very slowly, and the highway was okay. Downtown Assiniboia was a disaster, very slick and snowy, and I wasn’t the only one spinning out at intersections.

The propane lady was very cheerful about having to fill my tanks in the frigid conditions. While she did so, I enjoyed a cup of coffee. She told the cashier that I needed to pay for 52lbs worth, which made absolutely no sense as the maximum capacity between the two of them was 50lbs! The correct amount was 45lbs, which made a lot more sense!

I then stopped at The Bargain Shop! looking for what I call glittens, convertible fingerless gloves with mitts attached to them, but had no luck. I can’t these aren’t available locally and that I don’t have a pair in my winter bin.

Groceries were next and I went $30 over budget to get almost nothing on my list. I really hate that grocery store. 🙁

The drive home was fine until I tried to turn into the garage. There is more snow back here than I realised and I GOT STUCK. I mean, really, really, really, really, really, had to shovel loads and loads and loads and loads and just about had to go get some of my gravel stuck.


Moya has winter tires, by the way, and they’re in good shape. I just forgot how little snow it takes to entrap a vehicle, especially if it’s covering ice.

Since I plan to go out so rarely, I need to make a point of keeping that back area shoveled and graveled otherwise my truck is going to be trapped in the garage all winter!

So that was my morning in Winterland. I’m glad to be back in my cozy home! I’m going through propane like crazy in these conditions (6 to 10lbs per day), so it would make financial sense to move to Laura’s, but getting internet there would be complicated and, frankly, I’d rather be home. I’m comfortable and productive, so I’d rather just stay here and buy the propane.

I’m trying to get into work mode, but having worked so hard for such a long stretch, I’m really struggling today. Even if I do nothing today, I’ll have a manageable amount for tomorrow, so I may just take the day to read. I had a surprise in the mail today, a package from my best friend from high school who lives in Toronto. It contained a tiny little book called The Quotable Traveler: Wise words for travelers, explorers, and wanderers. Curling up with a book and the electric blanket sounds very appealing. 🙂

… travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” Miriam Beard

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  • Wow, you really do have to layer on the clothes. The inside of my house is about 58F now, and I’m only wearing sweats and capilene long underwear under them. It’s probably warmer outside!

    I am planning to do some hiking in temps that will probably be in between 30 & 40F, and I’ve been looking all over for leg warmers. What they are selling now is called “costume from the 80’s”. I loved them when I backpacked – starting out I wore them pulled up above the knee, then gradually pushed them down a little at a time until they were bunched at the ankles. I wondered if they would be helpful in your situation, but then I’m going to hike in the silky long capilene pants with shorts worn over them. Anything more would just get too warm after a few minutes of hiking.

    Stay warm – I didn’t think about how cold it actually gets where you live.

  • I hate being cold so I probably put on more layers than other people do. 😀

    I wouldn’t be able to focus at 58F in the house. I’m struggling at 65. 🙂

    At home, I usually just wear fleece, flannel, or velour pants with wool socks, and two layers of fleece, plus fingerless gloves.

    Here’s a good source for legwarmers: I love this company!

  • You are tough! But even though it is a pain in the neck, this wicked cold weather – there is a sense of being a pioneer and suffering through it. I don’t know, I kind of like getting bundled up and going outside in it and then coming back to something nice and hot!! Makes one feel alive. I have always preferred to be cold rather then hot. Hot and humid, I hate. Makes me lazy!

    Stay warm out there!

  • It helps that the rest of the continent is also in an ice age right now, makes me feel less stupid about being here. 😀

    I agree with you, nothing like a cup of coffee after a brisk walk!

  • Hi Rae,
    Although you are colder up there, this is a very timely topic for me. I’m near Fresno, CA & this my first winter full-timing. It was 27 F this morning! A hard freeze has been proclaimed… Yikes! 😐 Plus possible snow flurries come Friday into Saturday. These temps are suppose to last for at least a week. Luckily I have access to a 20# propane tank. I did Cyber Monday on Sunday & ordered an electric blanket & it arrived today, yeah! 🙂
    Even when I lived in Southern CA I would layer or multi-layered & everyone laughed at me, but I was warm. I would rather be warm than “in fashion”.
    Once again, you’ve taught me full-timing is TOTALLY do-able.
    I hope you stay warm & your leaks do not cause alot of damage.
    Thank you Rae 🙂

  • I grew up in Duluth Minn and they have big time cold there too but I coundn’t it anymore. Blood is thinned down from living in Texas. Keep warm.

  • Wow, you are talking some serious cold there. Of course you have to deal with it, and get by the best you can. I love your description of how it is done. Here in NM if will get down into the teens F next week. That will be new for me in the rig. But, so far I’m able to stay warm. Take care.

  • You left the door open!! GRRRR! It’s in the single numbers down here. I guess if it helps getting the cold away from you a bit, it’s worth it. It was 55 F on Tuesday and 9 F tonight. Not a happy camper here.
    I’ve spent most of the last week at the hospital with my Dad. I didn’t realize quite how cold it had gotten until this evening. I’m so ready to go full time and be a snow bird. AZ looks really good right now.
    Keep warm my Friend.

  • In cold weather I have an “inside hat” which is a simple pullon made of very lightweight wool/hair fiber of some sort, usually a fine mohair (or cashgora makes a nice one for really chilly days) and knit very simply…just a ribbed area and the body of the hat. For sure not glamour goods but I don’t give a rip: I stay much warmer with just that light covering on my head. I have a longer one I sleep in, too, if the temp is going to be below 50° or so; it pulls right down over my head with just my face exposed. Then I bury myself in the covers to boot.

    Also, I’ve taken to making more fitted legwarmers and wearing them over my wool long underwear but under my outer pants. Much warmer than when I wore the looser ones and warmer as the middle layer than an outer layer.

    And I have no problem with utilizing a small dog as a foot warmer whether in bed or sitting at the “desk” area. Happily, the dog likes that plan too.

  • Hi Rae,
    It’s not that cold yet here in NB. Hang in there. Have you thought about renting a larger ‘extended run’ tank from a propane supplier? I’m sure you have but I don’t recall you mentioning it. You may save on the price of propane and not have to go to town to fill the tank; they should have home delivery just as furnace oil companies do.

    All the best,

  • Barrie, such rentals are not available out here. 🙁

  • Sarah, my headphones are so huge I don’t even have to wear a hat! 😀

  • P.J., sorry about that. I’ll try to shut the… sorry, the door is frozen open!

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