It doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to Mother Nature, she’ll always find a way to screw with my life. Two weeks ago she sent the first blizzard of the year which made me purchase a snowblower. I purchased the piece of equipment online and since it was just before Christmas and there had just been a blizzard, they were out-of-stock. They told me that the would send one to me as soon as they got more in. For Christmas Mother Nature gave me the second blizzard of the year. Shut down most of the province for forty-eight hours. She dumped four foot drifts of snow all over my property, I’ve been shoveling for two days trying to find my driveway!!! Today I got an e-mail from the Big Box retailer informing me that my blower was on it’s way, they apologized for the delay siting shipping delays due to weather as the cause.
I’m no stranger to winter. I used to live at the ‘end of the road’ with Uncle Jeremiah and I know that when it comes to cold you have to dress for it. That means layers of clothing as opposed to one heavy piece of clothing. The reason is that layers trap air between each piece of clothing that act as additional insulation. Hence, three pieces of clothing over top of each other are actually five layers of protection. At the ‘end of the road’ fashion is not important, survival is.
For a large portion of this winter I have been experiencing ‘end of the road’ temperatures (-42C, -45C and -48C the last three days). Even though I no longer live at the ‘end of the road’, this winter is reminiscent of when I did. I spoke to Jeremiah the other day and he informed me that they are seeing temperature in the -50C range. I can tell you that there is very little difference between -50 and -40 when you’re out in it. It’s freaking cold!! The only way to survive is to dress for it.
Staying warm in temperatures like I have experienced this winter is a must. I have had too many days where the pains associated to the cold have brought me to tears. When you’re outside working all you can think about is getting inside and warming up. To this end you try to work as fast as possible but cold has a numbing effect and makes you go slower. Every movement is slow and ponderous. A job that would take me no more than an hour in summer, takes ninety minutes at -40C. What is that, some kind of cruel punishment? I’m trying to move as quickly as possible and Mother Nature or Old Man Winter, whichever one it is, keeps slowing me down!! I hate them both!! Why don’t they go up to the Arctic Circle and play with the polar bears?!!
The other day I went into a clothing store to purchase new long underwear. It’s been some time since I needed to purchase this type of garment. I’ve had the same two pairs of ‘winter woolly’s’ for more than a decade. They usually are only needed a few times throughout the winter where I am, but this winter they are a daily necessity. I found the wall with the undergarments hanging in hi-tech foil bags (obviously to keep them fresh). I had no idea why something like long underwear required such elaborate packaging for one single pair when you can buy six pairs of boxers from The Big Box store in one plastic wrapped package. Then I saw the price… $50 for one pair of long underwear!!! Do these things come with a butler to help you put them on each day???
The underwear was advertised as an ‘Undergarment System’. A system??? I don’t need a system; I just want something to help me ward off the cold! There was fleece and dry technology styles. I took down one of each and held them up to the teenage clerk that was close by. “What’s the difference?” I asked. She explained that one had fleece and one didn’t. Okay I can see there is not going to be any real help here. She did add that most people buy the dry-tech ones because they are slick and don’t stick to your clothes. “That’s nice,” I said, “but will they keep me warm?” “Oh sure,” she says looking at me like I’m an idiot, “they’re long underwear.” I’m dubious but since I don’t know better I lay out my $50 and go home with my new state of the art long johns.
Dry technology is the newest thing in clothing. Made of a synthetic material it draws moisture from your body and traps it, keeping it away from your skin and not allowing it to stain your outer clothing. Within an hour of donning my new hi-tech undies and being outside I realize I have made a serious error. The dry-tech long johns have absolutely no ‘R’ value at all. They don’t even block the wind!! Oh sure I’m dry but that means nothing to me because it’s minus six billion below zero outside!! I’m not sweating, I’m shaking!!!
I return to the underwear store and go to the wall of long johns and grab the fleece lined pair. There in bold letters is the word ‘thermal’. Now we’re talking!! I should have paid more attention to the package than the clerk who seemed more concerned about static electricity screwing up the look of my clothes than helping me stay warm. What did it matter to her, she has an inside job!!! I go and lay out another $50 for the ‘thermal fleece’ pair and leave. I wear the fleece pair the next day and sure enough I am warmer. In fact when I am inside I am really warm, so much so that my legs are sweating as I work. I’m sure you see where this is going; it’s why they call it a system.
On day three I put them both on. Dry-tech then thermal fleece, my long underwear has long underwear! Am I warm and dry?? Absolutely!! Do I feel stupid?? Absolutely!! But feeling stupid is a small price to pay for not freezing. So now I wear a system. My lower body is warm and protected in layers and all it cost me was $100 and two trips to the store to figure this out. To me it is a stupid amount of money to pay for underwear but the winter being what it is, I am happy that at least it works. I plan to buy a second system in the future as soon as I can save up enough beer bottles to pay for it.