Ode to Snow

fullsizerender_6

Brighton Ski Resort, Utah

Winter is a time for contemplation. Everything takes a little longer to do. Food must be warmed, layers must be compiled and worn, windshields and sidewalks must be scraped and shoveled of ice and snow.

Whether you are in the midst of knee-deep snow yourself or whether you only dream of it, I invite you to listen to my new snowy playlist on Spotify while indulging in some wintry reading (sources cited) and photography (all by me) below. Enjoy.

undinepark

Laramie, Wyoming

“Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back
and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.” -From Mark Strand’s “Lines for Winter”

fullsizerender_3

Southern Wyoming

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.'” -Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

fullsizerender_4

American Fork, Utah

“Everything is flowing — going somewhere, animals and so-called lifeless rocks as well as water. Thus the snow flows fast or slow in grand beauty-making glaciers and avalanches… While the stars go streaming through space pulsed on and on forever like blood… in Nature’s warm heart.” -John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra 

fullsizerender_2

Steamboat Springs, Colorado

“One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land…” -From Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man”

fullsizerender_8

Centennial, Wyoming

“It snowed all week. Wheels and footsteps moved soundlessly on the street, as if the business of living continued secretly behind a pale but impenetrable curtain. In the falling quiet there was no sky or earth, only snow lifting in the wind, frosting the window glass, chilling the rooms, deadening and hushing the city.” -Truman Capote
fullsizerender_7

Steamboat Ski Resort, Colorado

“A few feathery flakes are scattered widely through the air, and hover downward with uncertain flight, now almost alighting on the earth, now whirled again aloft into remote regions of the atmosphere.” -Nathaniel Hawthorne
fullsizerender_9

Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming

Love and warm wishes to all from the wintry American West.
Advertisements

Tips on Staying Warm When It’s REALLY COLD

Maybe it’s a little early for me to start giving you all the 411 on staying warm, but it’s really cold in Wyoming this week, in case you hadn’t heard.

Brrrr

Brrrr

The weekend before last, Matt, our friend Phil, and I attempted to climb at the Pole Mountain area in Medicine Bow National Forest. I think we can safely say we enjoyed the time we spent there, but will not be returning any time soon. It was TOO COLD.

The trail up to the climbing area

The trail up to the climbing area

The main problem is that rock climbing requires the use of your bare hands, and when there’s snow and ice on the climb itself, your fingers get cold really quickly.

Phil mantles off of a snowy ledge.

Phil tries to escape a snowy ledge, with his awesome purple legwarmers

We got a pretty gorgeous view on the hike back down, though. Almost worth it!

Sunset reflects off settled snow

Sunset reflects off settled snow

Anyway, I feel I’m making this list of tips as much for my own reference as for yours. Enjoy!

Tip 1: The right fabric

  • Some fabrics are warm; some are made for twirling on sandy toes just short of the incoming tide (read: linen). I jump at the chance when I see the following on a clothing label at Goodwill: wool, cashmere, or silk. Some high-quality sweaters have a blend of wool and cashmere or wool and silk to tone down the itchiness inherent in merino wool. To note, wool is one of the few fabrics that will keep you warm even when you’re wet (think rain-soaked sheep!), so if you happen to fall in a partially frozen pond or get sweaty in a wool baselayer, it will continue to insulate!
  • Anything flannel-lined (these flannel-lined jeans are amazing – just ask my friend Tallie) or down-filled does the job too. Down blankets, down sweaters, down sleeping bags…

Tip 2: The right gear

  • Hats: I’ve been told but have not scientifically verified that you lose most of your body’s heat through your head, which makes it imperative to cover that sucker. If I’m going to be outside for a while, I’ve found it’s important to have a long beanie that you can pull down over your ears, since my ears start to hurt in cold and windy weather. Try to find beanies that are lined with flannel, particularly around the ears; this will keep you especially warm! Note: if you try on a beanie in the store and it seems a little tight, it WILL ride up until it pops off your head, most likely in the middle of your run. Buy the right size!
I love this wool hat with ear flaps!

I love this wool hat with ear flaps!

  • Scarves: If you lose heat via your head, then I’m sure you lose plenty through your neck as well. Knitted scarves made of wool or cashmere blends are perfect. If you’re doing something active and don’t need a long scarf tripping you up, infinity scarves, neck “gaiters” or warmers, and even balaclavas are great too. In very cold/windy conditions, you want to cover your mouth and even your nose.
  • Mittens vs. gloves: I have really cold hands. Seriously, the room I’m in will be 70 degrees and the skin temperature on my hands will be ~45. (It’s a hard life.) Mittens are always warmer than gloves. You should only opt for gloves when (a) you’re not that concerned about getting cold, (b) you really need finger dexterity, or (c) you couldn’t find the mittens. I invested in a pair of waterproof mittens that has built-in glove liners, and they’re amazing. Added bonus of mittens: you feel like giving lots of thumbs-up because your normal array of hand gestures are very limited.
  • Jackets/coats/parkas: One thing I learned the hard way is to buy a down jacket WITH THE HOOD. Hoods are amazing, particularly if they’re lined with lots of fuzzy fake fur that severely limits your peripheral vision, meaning it also limits wind exposure. Your cheeks will thank you. Also, if you can, find one with the hand pockets located underneath the insulating layer, which will help to keep your mitten- or glove-less hands warm if you’re, for example,  just trying to make it through the Target parking lot. Wool coats are great if you don’t mind the weight; down, on the other hand, is significantly lighter, but can’t get wet.
  • Baselayers: A number of brands like Smartwool and Ibex make light, non-itchy wool shirts and long underwear designed to be worn under other layers. There are also some great poly-blends that insulate and wick moisture, like Patagonia’s capilene line, and the ubiquitous UnderArmour.
  • Socks: Wool to the max! I really like Smartwool socks, and Matt prefers Darn Tough. I have never worn socks as often as I do now, in Wyoming. Thick wool socks designed for hiking or skiing are seriously essential.
Wool socks + hiking boots = my commuting attire

Wool socks + hiking boots = my commuting attire

Tip 3: The right sustenance

  • Hot drinks: I’ve discovered the following unfortunate dilemma. I wake up and, realizing it’s a cold morning, I go by the local coffee shop to get a tea latte, only to lament the entire way to work that the hand holding this disposable cup is getting really cold doing so (yes, even colder than my hands normally are!). Most travel mugs, despite their name’s implying a safe journey, leak everywhere if you so much as turn them upside-down or let them float around in your purse. My solution is the insulated water bottle, or a thermos with a very tight lid (screw-top is better than a seal). I make tea at home, pour it into my insulated water bottle, throw it in my purse, and I’m on my way. Best of all, your drink won’t get cold during the commute! And, once you get to your destination, everyone knows how awesome you feel while holding a warm drink.
  • Hot foods: Honestly, this is what I want to eat when it’s cold out – potatoes, stews, noodle or rice soups, spicy curry, and mac and cheese. Even the heartiest quinoa-kale-salmon salad won’t do when it’s single or negative digits out. Need a soup suggestion? Look no further!

Tip 4: Keep moving

  • If at all possible, don’t just stand around in the cold. Walk! Shovel the driveway! Get the mail really fast! One way I’ve managed to convince myself to go for runs in the cold is to literally warm up inside. If you spend just 5-10 minutes doing dynamic stretches (lunges, squats, high-kicks, etc.) in your living room in the clothes you plan on wearing outside, your body will be warm and ready (or as ready as possible) to conquer the cold.
Stay warm, everyone!

Stay warm, everyone!