Day 12: Thermodynamics.

Dear friends,


On the 12th day of this month of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the nuclear furnace that lives inside me.

At least that’s what Mr. Mom says — that I am a walking, talking thermodynamics experiment. At night, I radiate heat in bed like a glowing ember, which you might imagine makes snuggling with me a winning proposition for a man with long, frigid limbs like Mr. Mom.

It was a balmy 17 degrees during this morning’s run. No big in my book. Two layers on top and one on bottom and I’m good to go. I don’t break out the big guns of warmth (triple layers and a face mask) until much closer to zero.

The winter before I left Mayberry was an exceptionally cold one. After running through a week of sub-zero temps, I just happened to sleep in on the morning Mayberry set a state record cold temperature at -31 degrees. I’m still bemoaning the fact that I ran faithfully that frigid winter but can’t tell my grandkids I ran on the coldest day ever.

I’m not sure, but I think my Native American blood is particularly suited to cold weather. I like that explanation better than the layer of maternal blubber which I am also certain provides strong insulating properties.

By the way, after this morning’s run, I made an unexpected stop at a local coffee shop. I was the lone patron on this dark, cold morning and the college student/barista looked especially glad to see me. As I took off my hat and gloves and ordered my specialty latte, he noticed my cold weather gear and began telling me how cold he had felt this morning while scraping the frost off his windshield without gloves.

Three decades and several good jobs have separated me from my peanut-butter-and-ramen-noodles existence, so I offered the boy my gloves. (They’re black, unisex, and made by North Face, a leading outfitter.) He declined, and I said goodbye hoping I didn’t embarrass him. I just acutely remember my 20s and the perpetual feeling of being a day late and dollar short. I also remember the feeling of luxury and privilege that came with owning a home with a garage and saying goodbye forever to cold-weather windshield scrapings.

With gratitude {for warmth, in all forms},

Joan, who loves to reminds her children that when she lived in Boston she daily walked ONE MILE EACH WAY through heavy snow to the subway station



  1. It can’t be the maternal “layer” – I have one of those (in spades!) and it doesn’t work that way at all. I’ve been accused of having a 6 degree wide temperature comfort zone (actually I believe the term used was “thermostat princess”). Once it drops below 70 degrees I am hauling out knee socks and scarves. In my defense I grew up and now live again in Central Texas where the weathermen all start barking with excitement the first time the overnight low drops below 39 degrees.

  2. Your post has made me determined to embrace the chill. I am someone who feels the icy approach of impending hypothermia at anything below 45.

  3. Deb — I love the title “Thermostat Princess.” I hope you wear it as a badge of honor in front of those who would deride you. In my home, the word is “precious,” as in “Oh, I see. You’re too precious to (do X thing)” said by Mr. Mom in a certain tone.

    M’del — You have no fat on your bones, woman! No wonder you are chilled. I highly recommend gear by Columbia and North Face. They are pricey, so I never pay full retail. Instead, I buy last season’s colors and styles through a discounter called CampMor. You can find them online. Proper gear in this weather is essential. Do not settle for your favorite TU hoodie.

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