Winter Cometh

It’s been an unusually mild winter here in Massachusetts—not counting the freak snow storm we had back in October that damaged so many trees and knocked out power for days throughout the Northeast.

In fact, we’ve had a whole lot of weird weather this year—including a tornado, an earthquake and a hurricane-turned-tropical-storm. Anyone who doesn’t think there’s something strange and disturbing happening to the climate is either in deep denial or a Republican presidential candidate. But I digress.

Now it’s finally getting cold. We had about an inch of snow late last week and another four over the weekend. Temperatures are well below freezing at night and pretty brisk during the day. And I’m beginning to want to hibernate.

Going outside in New England winters is always an expedition for me. I need to bundle up big time to keep my Raynaud’s in check.

Every day I put on my leg warmers and wrist warmers and sweaters and fleece vest and whatever other layers I need to stay warm in the house, plus all the external layers when I venture outside. I end up looking like an eskimo half the time that other people are sporting mid-weight coats or jackets. I used to feel ridiculous, but now I don’t care what anyone thinks. It’s just what I have to do.

And all those layers can have unanticipated benefits. Last Friday afternoon, I had finished my work for clients and was wrapping up a first draft of this post when our 13-year-old golden, Ginger, insisted on nose-batting my hand away from the keyboard to tell me it was time to go for a walk. Since I’d been writing about contending with the cold, I decided she was right.

So I put on my deep-tread walking shoes, my warmest down coat, my shearling hat and my down mittens, and we headed outside. As we walked along our snow-packed street, a dozen high school girls from the nearby prep school jogged past, clad in thin black leggings and ski jackets, ponytails bobbing.

I pulled up my hood against the wind. Warmer now, I didn’t mind Ginger pausing to inspect each lamp pole on our leisurely trek around the block. As we rounded the corner back toward our house, we stopped to let the runners jog by again. A straggler ran past. Farther down the block, another labored to catch up.

Then Ginger skidded on some ice. My feet flew out from under me and I fell flat on my back, banging my left elbow and whacking the back of my head on the icy road.

The second straggler ran over and offered me a hand. I thanked her, got up on my own and walked, shaken, with Ginger back home. Nearly thirty hours later, I’m feeling mostly back to normal, no longer spacey, no more mild headache, just some strained muscles. And I’m sure I was spared a concussion by my thick hat and down hood. Not even a bruise on my elbow, thanks to all the padding.

One of my rheumatologists always used to ask me, only half-joking, why I wouldn’t move to San Diego. I’d quip that I wouldn’t be able to stand the air conditioning. After this weekend, and whenever I feel stuck in a January deep-freeze, I’ll admit the idea has some appeal. But.

This is my home. It’s been my home for more than 30 years, now. Yes, it gets too cold. But I have dear friends here, Al’s family within a hour’s drive and a tight-knit synagogue community. I have an outstanding team of physicians who know me and my history really, really well. I love the scenery and four seasons, even the snow. I love my home. Our daughters grew up here. My parents and Al’s parents are buried here. We have roots.

All of that is very hard to replace. And the stress of adjusting to a new community, the amount of time and effort involved in building new relationships, aren’t worth a warmer climate (especially given all the extreme weather of late—for all I know, if the oceans do rise, we may end up with beachfront property someday here in Central Massachusetts).

So, for now, I’ll continue to stay put. And buy a pair of ice cleats.

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. Andrea Clark says:

    Good one!

  2. Kathy pulda says:

    I totally get it. I have been trying to get my Parents to move up here saying family keeps you warmer than the weather. They still don’t buy it.

  3. Pat Bizzell says:

    My arthritis has made me much less sure footed on slippery streets for a long time now. I recommned Yak-Traks, which you might be able to buy at a sporting goods store, or Stable-Icers (the more heavy-duty solution), which may be available only on line. Good luck.

    In re. remaining near family and friends, my family is now struggling with the bad decisions that resulted in my dying ex-mother-in-law being stranded in a nursing home far from any close family members. I only wish I had been able to get her up here before it was too late.

    • Thanks for the recommendation. I did have a pair of Yak-Traks but found them too difficult to put on my walking shoes. So I have a pair of Stablicer overshoe boots on order. These are a bit pricey, but they’re easy to get on and off, which is crucial for my hands, and they are warm. And, I’d rather pay a bit more to be sure I don’t fall again!

  4. It’s me again. I’m having fun going through all your old blog posts. I won’t comment on everything, I promise. But this topic hits close to home. Both for the fact that my son is going to Emerson in Boston right now and I miss him. And because I suspect that our moving to Hawaii from Washington State nine years ago might have saved me from having a worse outcome than I’ve had. I had such bad Reynaud’s there but of course I have none here. I know you’d never move and I wouldn’t either if I were you. But maybe you might want to bug out in the winter. Just a thought.

    • Hi Sue. . .I envy your locale in Hawaii! I’ve thought of moving to a warmer climate, and I’ve thought of eventually living in a warmer climate in the winter months. The latter is more likely than the former, but I have no plans at present. I find that going for a short trip south in the winter is actually worse than not going at all, because it’s so hard to adjust back to the cold when I return. One of these days, though, I hope I’ll see Hawaii. Enjoy!

Speak Your Mind