Happy New Year! My first post of 2018 was published from Nova Scotia on 01/07 at -18C (-1F) with -28C (-19F) wind chill.
On January 1, 1998, I participated in a polar bear dip in Halifax HarboUr. The air temperature was around -15C (5F).* That was the coldest I have ever been. A few months later when I watched the movie Titanic that had recently been released, I thought “Bullshit” as Kate Winslet’s character walked through a corridor flooding with water to find her man. “The Atlantic didn’t warm up as soon as it entered the ship.” Unlike others who make a polar bear dip a yearly celebration, once was enough for me.
The runner-up for coldest-I’ve-ever-been was during my attempt to climb Washington State’s Mount Rainier (elevation 14,400 feet) in June 2012. On day two of the climb, I knew we would likely be weathered off the mountain and not get much farther than base camp. But because it was a commercial climb, I think the leaders wanted to give us a taste of an alpine start: I slept (wearing all my clothes and a heavy parka) in a tent on the snow at base camp, we were woken up at 2:30 am to gear up, rope up, cross the first glacier, and start climbing over and around rock against high winds.
Let me confess it here for the first time: when I heard that we were turning back, I felt … jubilant. We didn’t have a chance to summit and I was cold, tired, and just wanted to go home. I had fund-raised, trained, and showed up prepared. I had met my goal. Yes, once was enough for that too.
I won’t be topping the dip or the climb by some future goal to prove to myself how tough I am. I think this winter will be challenge enough.
I knew I would have a big adjustment to a real winter again after being in the PNW for 11 years, but I didn’t expect it to start so early. The solstice was only 2.5 weeks ago! We’ve already had two winter storms with high winds and days with the wind chill in the -20’s C. I am grateful for the quality winter gear and outdoor clothes I brought east with me. I recently added a pair of big stomp-around insulated boots and more long underwear. I also got a cozy new duvet just in time.
And if it’s going to be cold, I need more sunshine. Not just for Vitamin D, mood, and the PV panels, it also means I burn less fuel (less $) because the tiny house warms up without keeping the woodstove running. Depending on this first winter, the 2019 SLSR budget for heating may require a serious tweak.
I am not complaining. I am not taking it personally. I am acclimating. And I am also reflecting (frequently) on that record hot stretch in 2015 where I sat in the condo in my underwear every evening for three weeks obsessed with trying to figure out how to cool the place down.
*I looked this up in historical weather data so I wouldn’t exaggerate.
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