Archive for January 24th, 2011

Frigid Air

It’s hard not to mention the cold today.  When I walked out the door this morning , it was -15 degrees. 

I’ve mentioned here that I like the winter weather, enjoy the feel of an icy breeze on my face.   As I get older I keep moving my eyes ever northward on the map for a place that is cooler year round.  But even I have my limits.  Single digit temperatures down to zero are no problem but below that zero presents new challenges.  It seems like the cold grows geometrically more intense with each degree it falls below  zero and clothing that felt comfortable in slightly milder sub-freezing temperatures now seems slightly inadequate.  The cold dryness of the frigid air burns just a little bit with deep breathes and exposed skin protests with redness.

But it is beautiful with ice crystals laying like tiny diamonds spread across the white sheet of snow that covers the landscape.  Everything is brisk and clean, the grays and deep browns of the winter forest now only providing a contrast to the clean whiteness.

And the quiet.  Ah, the quiet.  Walking out in the early morning is nothing but stillness.  The animals of the forest are hunkered down and the cold has reduced all other outdoor human activity and noise to a bare minimum.  The quiet is wonderful and worth the price of a layer or two of added clothing.

But still, -15 is pretty damn cold. Last summer,  I talked to an old neighbor and friend from my childhood who is an avid hunter who told me of a trip he took last spring to hunt musk ox above the Arctic Circle.  He spent 13 days on the frozen tundra of northern Canada with every day being no warmer than -50.  He hired a group of Mi’kmaq native guides that were a constant source of amazement to him.  They wore thin skin jackets that they made  and the tents they erected every night were, as he said, ” thin and looked like the ticking from an old quilt.”  But they were very comfortable with the cold and the tent was more than adequate.  He asked if they ever went further south and they said they periodically went to the small village that they call home in the summer but that it was too warm there for them.  It was in the 40’s there most days.  so they would head back north.

I like the cold but I’m not up to that level of tolerance.  Yet.

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