It's not that cold. It's not even (quite) as cold as it was at the beginning of the month. But it's sufficiently cold that when I was outside shoveling and taking care of my mom's dogs yesterday I could not afford exposed skin for even three minutes. (I pulled off my outer glove and used my phone in my glove liner, and my damned hand nearly froze. Likewise an ear, when my alpaca snood/cowl/ear-and-face-covering-tube slipped away from the edge of my hat.)
-14 when I got up this morning, counting windchill. Up to a balmy and tropical -9 now.
As you no doubt have heard, we've been having some rollicking weather in the U.S. It was sixty degrees last week, and -20ish with windchill the week before that. (In our barbaric Fahrenheits, yes. Some of us still can't get over the idea the Earth is round. At least we have thermometers.) And I live in a house that's eleventy-four years old, and has some original windows. They've been retrofitted with storms, and we have a lot more insulation now, but due to the vagaries of old houses, there are some quirks. For example, my fridge is in the mudroom, which is uninsulated and unheated.
So we dress warm around the house. Witness and behold my styling January fashion ensemble:
Two layers of longjohns (wool and silk) (I guess we're supposed to call them "base layers" now?), an alpaca skirt, and a cashmere turtleneck. I have a rag wool cardigan for if I get chilly, and I debated a layer of polypro on top as well.
When I got downstairs, I added two layers of fingerless mitts and a beanie.
...and the thing is, you know, secretly I kind of enjoy winter. But I can enjoy it because I'm prepared, because I have this wardrobe (painstakingly assembled out of end of season sales and secondhand stores though much of it is.) I own a down coat that's basically a sleeping bag with sleeves, and I have more scarves than I know what to do with. (Bless knitters in the family.)
A lot of people don't have the resources to handle it. They may live in parts of the country where it never usually gets this cold. Or they may just not be able to afford warm clothing. Or heat.
And we're looking at this hard weather continuing for at least the next seven to ten days, and if that's the last of it this winter I will be surprised.
I guess the moral of the story is that it doesn't hurt, if you have to resources, to give to a coat drive or a food pantry or a heating subsidy charity, this time of year. To put out some high-calorie treats for the birds. (Seeds and suet, not bread, if you please.) To build a feral cat shelter.
It's never a bad time to be kind.