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On Being Warm

by Tara
...and mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.
The Night Before Christmas

There was a time when I didn't know why on earth the people in "The Night Before Christmas" were wearing hats to bed. After living in a travel trailer for nearly three winters in Vermont, I now have a visceral understanding. Put simply, with inadequate insulation and a meager heat supply, it's fucking freezing.

Thus far, our homesteading lives have included The Cold as such a constant that we have developed our own vocabulary around it. Tyler routinely calls me "Coldie Hawn," and refers to my ice-chilled buns as "Butt-sicles." Meanwhile, should Tyler slip cold hands under my shirt in an attempt to warm them, or lift up the comforter to grab something (thus breaching my bubble of warmth), or needlessly leave the door open, I'll say "You're COLDING ME!"

Tyler is pretty impervious to cold. I don't understand how, but he seems to radiate warmth continuously no matter what the temperature is. Even so, he does suffer from one cold-related malady, something he refers to as "cold head." It only happens after a cold night of sleep without a hat, and it gives him a massive headache. He, too, wears a hat to bed.

Tyler Working in our Camper Bedroom

While living in the camper, we'd deal with the cold at odd occasions, like when Tyler would have a conference call. Before he'd chat with co-workers, we'd have to turn off the heat because the furnace was too loud, squealing and whining as it rumbled to life. As soon as the heater would stop running, we'd feel The Cold rush in, thanks to the poorly sealed windows and door, and the insulation-less floor and walls.

During the last month, while our camper heater was broken (neither of us could muster the energy to do anything about it), there was nowhere to escape the ever-present chill, nowhere to be during the day that provided any sort of warmth or comfort. At least I was able to work in the house, which, while unheated, was still vastly warmer than the camper where Tyler was busy programming.

Crawling into bed at the end of the day was rough. Our pillows would be frozen like ice cubes, and the mattress too. When he was feeling generous, Tyler would get in first and flail around like a crazy person until the friction had tamed the piercing chill. Meanwhile, I'd layer on two pairs of comfy pants (aka yoga pants + sweatpants), two wool shirts, one wool sweater, a pair of down slippers, and a winter hat.

(Not unlike how I would bundle up for a night in an igloo.

Tara Crawling into the Igloo

Then, I'd jump in bed, squealing because suddenly I was colder than I had been before, thanks to the frozen sheets and pillows. Next, I'd throw the comforter over my head so no streams of cold air could penetrate my cocoon. There, I'd hold still, frozen, until bit by bit, my own scarce body heat and Tyler's massive supply would render the bed a comfortable one. Tyler, with his nuclear-reactor-like personal heating system, would often sleep naked. I'd slip my icy hands under his armpits for warmth.

I can hardly begin to articulate the relief I felt when it warmed to such cozy levels in our house last night that I was able to take my hat off and throw my arm out of the sleeping bag. My toes were warm. My nose was warm. Even the ends of my ears were warm. What an exquisite comfort it is to be warm!

Now that our wood stove is installed, there is a place I can go to warm my bones, thank heavens. It's magic, really, this wood stove of ours. In goes wood, out comes soul-nourishing comfort, bone-thawing heat. I have a feeling I'm going to love this little house.