Baby, It’s Cold Outside
All right, it’s been pretty cold lately and at the moment it’s raining ice onto my roof. Everyone has been complaining about the temperature and the bitter wind for at least the last week, but I would nevertheless like to choose this moment to make a plea for a more positive reconsideration of the winter season, or to at least explain to you what you could do to enjoy it a little more.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I am not a winter sports’ enthusiast. I don’t yearn for snow so that I can go skiing or cold so I can play ice hockey on the local pond. I like winter because I can stay inside and watch the weather from a position of comfort and warmth. There is not one piece of weeding or pruning that has to be done in the garden. I can read and sip hot drinks and not feel the slightest bit guilty. I also like winter because when I do go outside, I get to wear stuff that I can’t wear at any other time of the year.
Let’s start with the staying inside thing. I’ll grant you that staying inside is no fun if your house is not warm, no fun at all. I think a lot of people don’t like winter in the Northeast because they are cold most of the time, inside and out. So here’s a tip to stay warm inside: turn up your heat. Go over to the thermostat on the wall and crank it up to at least 70. I promise you’ll be warm in no time.
Now I know a lot of people think turning up the heat is morally wrong, that we should conserve fuel, the resources of our planet, that sort of thing. Well, I do conserve fuel. I drive a small, fuel-efficient car without four wheel drive, so when it comes to the temperature of my house in the winter, I feel like I can live it up and actually turn the thermostat up past 70.
I know what a lot of you are thinking. It’s too expensive, right? It’s really expensive to have my house warm during the winter. Well, here’s another tip. Next time you build or buy a house, pick one that you can afford to heat. It’s simple. You don’t really need four bedrooms, or that extra wing, or that enormous game room with the glass doors that have that fantastic view of the lake. Pick a smaller house with windows that look like windows and not the display case of a two-story tank in the Atlanta aquarium. Ask yourself as you are buying: “Yes, I know the floor-to-ceiling windows are spectacular and my kitchen is the size of a school cafeteria, but will I be comfortable here in the winter?” and if your answer is “Well, I can always put on another sweater.” Don’t go there. This is not the property for you.
Okay, so your house is small and compact enough to heat without bankrupting yourself. What about going outside? It’s still miserable and cold out there, right? Well, a very wise man in Russia once said to me: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”
Let me put forward the idea of winter fashion.
In order to be comfortable in the winter season, you do need to take the temperature seriously and not wear the same clothes you wore in the fall just with your jacket buttoned up one or two buttons higher. You need to wear hats and scarves and gloves, boots and coats. I lot of people don’t seem to understand this from what I can see. They walk around bare-headed in a light jacket when it’s 5 degrees with a wind-chill and they complain that they’re miserable. Well, with that on, you are miserable. You need to put on a proper hat and coat.
Now again, I know what people are thinking, especially the women. I look terrible in all that bulky stuff. I look like I assembled my outfit from the bottom of the clothes hamper. Well, you need to go shopping. And don’t go buying a shapeless down-filled parka made of shiny material that crunches when you move just because someone told you it was the latest in nanotechnology. Buy some long, elegant coats and some colorful scarves and gloves that match all your handbags. Get several pairs of boots so you can match them to whatever outfit you happen to be wearing. And most importantly, buy a fur hat (real or faux). Buy several! I can recommend a good boutique in Quebec City (which is another place, like Russia, whose winter season is so long and ferocious that people take their fashion seriously). You’ll come away with something really unique that you will actually look forward to wearing. You will start to long for the winter snows.
So if you heat your house and buy warmer, more fashionable clothes, winter will start to get a lot more appealing to you. But is there anything else you can do?
How about making soup? How about making soup and inviting people over to enjoy it with you? Open some bottles of wine while you’re at it. You’d be amazed how many people will show up at your house when they hear the temperature is high enough that they don’t have to wear three sweaters and a pair of gloves at your dinner table.
Or what about lighting a fire?
Taking a warm bath and watching the flakes fall outside?
Making hot cocoa or warm spiced chai to bring to the bath with you?
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Embrace the season. It is really not necessary to move to Florida or to bemoan the rotten fate that has you living in the Northeast in January. It will be hot enough in July when you will be complaining about the heat and humidity and turning the thermostat all the way down to 72.