For most of that time I still had stuff to do outside - supervise pre-teens playing hide-and-go-seek at -5, sledding, Christmas Tree sales, Winter Festival Set-up and Take-down, and visiting friends picking out their holiday greenery. I used to get so cold - a problem for more than me. My dad spent his ice fishing, snowmobiling and winter escapades rubbing frozen toes and numb fingers. So, I've become a student of staying warm.
Much of this started in reading and studying The Winter Wilderness by the Companion by the Connovers (Maine winter trekking guides). They spoke my language and I worked their ideas into a Master's degree. I've studied polar explorers and Scandinavian woodsman, trying to get the best idea for how to stay warm. Turns out, that the old German grandmas and grandpas that surrounded me growing up might have had the best ideas.
Every grandmother had a silk scarf (adopted by our local Cowboys) and all the old Germans from Russia grandpas wore outrageous fur caps. Heavy mittens were standard. I inherited my dad's old pair of "choppers" a few years back. Last Christmas I was gifted my Grandfather-in-law, Al's, fur hat. And the scarf was a new purchase - to replace the paisley thrift store find I'd worn elk hunting for years.
Here they are - appropriately ugly in this new streamlined - go-lite/patagonia world.
I've gone back to more natural fibers. Gore-tex is the partially hydrogenated fat of the clothing world (at least to me). Wool breaths - so does cotton! I spent a little too much on a cotton jacket from Fjallraven last year and waterproof it with their special beeswax. And fur and leather do on our bodies what they did on the creatures we harvested them from: keep us warm and allow our perspiration to get away. I put that cotton jacket through 4 days of down pours during the flooding, and only on the fourth day did a seam leak - quickly remedied with more wax.
I find myself looking to the old ways and learning how to survive in our new, ever-changing world. Laying in bed last night, Jen said, "How did people survive in the winter?" I can't imagine it was always pleasant, but in my ugly hand-me-downs I get a little glimpse into how they did it.