Thursday, January 18, 2024

War on Torpor 

One way to stay warm as generated by MidJourney.
With the weirdly up, down, wet, cool, not cold December we had, this blast of winter we're having right now feels particularly nasty. The thing is, it's not even that cold (here in Toronto at any rate), in relative terms. It's not Alberta-cold. It's not Saskatchewan-cold. It's not Ottawa or Montreal-cold. Yet it's still cold-cold.

For years when I lived in Ottawa, the second coldest capital city in the known universe, I wore a massive down-filled coat that, once donned, gave you the appearance of a beige Michelin Man who had just had a very satisfying meal of another Michelin Man and was now ready for a nap. Eventually, over the years I acclimatized and bit by bit I wore that incredible coat less and less and as I needed the storage space for a small Honda instead of a massive coat, I got rid of it. I became used to wearing a small puffer jacket. A time came when even a puffer jacket seemed like a ridiculous affectation and all I needed was an appropriate layering of a synthetic undergarment known only to extreme athletes and Mormons, a light sweater, a light fleece, a slightly heavier fleece, a light windbreaker followed by a hardy rain resistant jacket. Wicking moisture from the skin and up the subsequent layers was the objective. Much as the art of layering appealed to my inner obsessive woodworker (the Japanese art of adding many thin coats of colour and lacquer to achieve a satisfactory shell is the only comparable thing), there came a time after I moved to Toronto that winter adornments really did not warrant such devotion. I enjoyed the simple pleasure of a single puffer jacket and a tuque with gloves tucked in a pocket with the same effect as a handkerchief popping from a breast pocket.

This warm (warm-ish) and wet December had an impact not only on my soul and sanity but on my winter readiness. That is to say, when winter showed up, I was not ready. What happened to me? The first day of modestly cold weather had me bundling myself like a seasoned pro but to no avail. A woollen tuque made from the shearing of an entire herd of sheep was not keeping my head warm. My down-filled puffer jacket with authentic Nepalese mountaineering achievement patches did little to stop the wind that carved my bones into quaint whistles. My lined Gore-tex gloves were a joke. My fingers lost all feeling while my snot froze above my lips. My lips stuck to my teeth like Flick’s tongue did to that flagpole in A Christmas Story.

What had I become? This wasn’t my first rodeo, though to be fair, I’ve never been to a rodeo. This really wasn’t my first winter yet I was not handling it well at all. The only answer was to revert to days of yore and yes, slice open a recently dead tauntaun with a light sabre and crawl inside. Or, bear with me, wear long underwear. This is really the only way to maintain and exhibit my newly fit frame under lighter winter apparel unless I’d prefer to inflate one of those large clear bubble balls with hot air and walk inside wearing only my Speedos. While that is an image befitting of an AI image generator prompt, it lacks practicality, so authentic Japanese human lacquering it is. Thin layers discreetly hidden beneath a giant coat that I have recently procured will be my new approach until I can find a way to fill all of my pockets with toasty kittens.



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