Thursday, 3 March 2011

baby, it's cold outside

So. Fucking February is over (our family swears our way through the month) and with luck this week is the last of the cold snaps before the spring bursts through, as it always does in March. But I do feel a little nostalgic this year for the winter behind me. It’s been a good one, maybe because I’ve been so close to it and have had to work more creatively this year for my comforts instead of simply avoiding discomfort.

We’ve had the central heating on only briefly at the beginning and end of the day (for the kids’ sake, really) and since we work from home have had to bundle ourselves up in rugs, hot water bottles, socks, slippers, hats, padded jackets and all that jazz when working on computers. Beds piled high with blankets at night... Keeping the wood burner fed has in itself kept us warm, as have twice-weekly forays to the allotment. And hot soups at lunchtime have stoked the fires too.

I recently read a fascinating article that describes the body itself as a heating system. Although we talk so much about insulating our houses these days we focus very little on keeping heat in our bodies through good clothing. The article goes into detail about the kinds of clothes we need to use to keep our skin temperature at a comfortable 32-33 degrees. Two layers of long thermal underwear under normal clothes can reduce the need for space heating by 80%, for example.

The only problem with longjohns, I have found, is that as soon as I start moving about and generating internal heat through exercise, I need to take those layers off. And if they’re near the skin, it involves an entire strip, in the cold. It has been quite hilarious this winter turning up to Transition meetings in an overheated pub room and for half the hardy attendees to have to strip off to their undergarments.

Perhaps this sounds a bit holy or poverty-minded to some people, and I have had varieties of sneer-back about this kind of talk. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure that this is the way to go. Maybe it's true what some people say: 'they' will invent some kind of infinte clean fuel. Or, since 'they' don't seem worried, we don't need to do anything yet. I don't know why I actually enjoy pushing my comfort edge. Maybe it's because when I reach the edge, I realise that I am still at ease, still happy and playful in my own domain and maybe that makes me feel less fearful of a future with less, and more excited about all the new creative possiblities it brings.

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