Into the Freezer

Okay, okay, it’s winter. I get it. Those unseasonably balmy December days are a distant memory. The temperature is dropping, the wind chill is rising, and it’s downright cold outside.

photoFive of my fingers are in bandages, one infected ulcer in my left middle finger has required antibiotics for more than a month, and it takes me forever to get going in the morning and to bed at night because of all the hand care.

But I refuse to give in to the weather. Forewarned is forearmed. Friends in Chicago have been telling me about the frigid temperatures there, and it was only a matter of time before the Arctic Freeze came our way. So this past weekend, I found a new pair of mittens with all the right qualifications: lightweight, thermal insulation, with cozy channels for my fingers like an interior glove, suede feel for driving, soft, easy to manipulate. A big score.

I also found a new winter hat (it helps that everything warm is now on sale). It’s one of those fake fur jobs, like a fuzzy bomber’s helmut, that covers my neck and ears and wraps under my chin. I did not buy this for looks. It is far from flattering, given my narrow face and long nose. But no matter. It’s definitely a good addition to my other winter gear, especially when paired with a snug wool hat underneath. It functions like a hood, better than the oversized one that came with my warmest winter coat.

So, the only item left on my list is a pair of insulated winter boots. I’ve somehow managed to go without for a long time, relying instead on a pair of cleated overshoe boots for really bad snow and ice. But they don’t work for driving or city walking. And my rain boots, made of rubber, make my feet sweat when I use them to drive, which only causes my toes to get chilled if I then walk outside.

It’s a lot of work, all the gearing up to go out. Reminds me of when I was a kid and my mom made me wear snow pants over my skirts for school, the kind that had clip suspenders to hold them up. I hated those snow pants. They made my skirts bunch up at the crotch. And those old red rubber boots, the kind with elastic bands as button loops. Clip-on mittens. The works.

Even still, I would play outside for hours in the snow, building snowmen, sliding down the back hill on our old Flexible Flyer, making snow angels. I’d play until my teeth chattered and my fingers went numb. For a healthy little girl, warming back up with a cup of hot chocolate was half the fun.

Now I have to force myself out the door just to walk in this weather. But once I’m all bundled up, I still love the fresh, crisp air, especially after a snowfall. I love the transformation of trees to Belgian lace. I love seeing all the critter tracks, knowing who was in our yard or up the street, otherwise unseen. I love the stark winter light and the way dusk turns snow blue.

So, here’s to you, Old Man Winter. Much as I dread your annual arrival, it wouldn’t be the same without you.

Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at


  1. Pat Bizzell says:

    Loved this post–I so relate to all of it–both the hassle of bundling up for frigid weather (even though I don’t have to be as careful as you do) and the beauty of winter light, refreshment of winter air. I remember my snow suit, too, and also inserting my little daughters into theirs, like mobile sleeping bags. My very active younger daughter was determined to play in the snow before I could find snow boots small enough for her. So I wrapped her feet, over her little leather shoes, in plastic bags. Ready, set, go!

  2. Hello Evelyn, we see on the news the amazing weather you are having I do hope you have been able to keep warm and cozy and your fingers are healing nicely. To me it is almost unbelieveable that you can deal with what mother nature throws at you during your winters. We live in an oceanic climate where we sometimes may get down to -10°C during the winter, but that is usually a frost and we usually get a glorious sunny day, where the temperature may get up to 10°C. But then again in summer, as today our temperature may only get up to 15°C. Thinking of you Heather

    • Thanks, Heather! Fortunately we missed the worst of the big blizzard that came up the East Coast this weekend. But it’s only January . . . Your climate sounds much more moderate! I just came back from a walk outside. It was good to get the fresh air, even as it is about -1° C here today. Good to hear from you, and I hope you are doing well, too.

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