Jan 16 2009
As I write this it’s -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 Celsius).
Fortunately there’s a nice covering of snow to protect the plants and small animals, but we and the birds operate in the air - where it’s coldest.
Years ago I knew a woman named Louise Reiley who was a missionary nurse in Alaska and China more than 50 years ago. She had many stories about the successes and hardships of her time abroad but there was one thing she said that stuck with me: “Hot and cold are a state of mind.”
Louise explained that if you thought “warm” when it was cold, you wouldn’t feel the temperature. She said it really worked. I have never been able to do it. Instead I compensate by wearing layers.
Today it’s going to take a while to get dressed: tights, corduroy jeans, ski pants, two layers of socks, boots with felt linings, undershirt, turtleneck, wool sweater, parka with hood, boola scarf, hat, glove liners, mittens. When I’m done I can barely walk and can’t see my feet without bending over, but I don’t feel the cold.
I’m lucky I don’t have to stay outdoors all the time. Birds do, so today will be especially challenging for them. They’ll fluff out their feathers to make their down hold more heat and they’ll eat a lot. If they don’t get enough to eat, they’ll die.
So bundle up and fill your bird feeders. Let’s all think “warm.”
(photo of a Pine Siskin and American Goldfinches by Marcy Cunkelman)