January 5th, 2016
It seems appropriate to sing “Baby, it’s cold outside” to Bailey as we begin walking down the street. I don’t sing the song as well as Idina Menzel and Michael Buble do. Bailey likes to nuzzle my gloves when I sing so I take it as encouragement and continue. Up here in Labrador, we have entered the “deep freeze” part of winter. Temperatures can drop to -45 degrees Celsius. The wind chill can push the temperature further down into the minus fifties – or even sixties. The family usually ventures outside only when necessary. Bailey does not understand “necessary”. She likes to hang out there in this frosty, “comfortably cool” world. Fetching snowballs, digging holes in the snow as well as playing hide and seek are just a few activities that capture Bailey’s attention and encourage her to stay outdoors. Bailey is not just surviving in the cold but, thriving in it. She eagerly looks forward to her daily outings on the trails even if we are somewhat less enthused at first.
Dressing oneself in layers and layers of clothing is helpful. With the precision of a military operation, I begin with what is commonly known as the base layer. Truth be told, my base layer is comprised of several layers. I put on a pair of wool socks, polar fleece long underwear (sometimes silk ones underneath if the wind is really cold), a light weight top that wicks away sweat and a half zip polar fleece top. Bailey usually moves into a sitting position at this point. She knows that I am going to be a while.
The next stage of this complex layering process entails getting my heavier fleece jacket on and the head accessories as I like to call them. These accessories consist of a full head mask and a toque. The one good thing about wearing the mask is it hides a bad hair day. One day as the four of us donned our masks, my husband joked, “Who are we going to rob today?” It reminded me of a “Minions” movie scene involving a family of robbers in a car.
The final stage begins with me wriggling into my heavy snow pants complete with belt loop watch followed by putting on a ski jacket. I pull on a set of homemade nose wipers made from the tops of holey merino wool socks. We are big supporters of repurposing items (like Bailey wearing my husband’s old underwear while in heat). I had observed one of the older cross-country skiers using a nose wiper and thought how clever. Who wants to remove their mitts at these frigid temperatures to retrieve a tissue? My nose tends to dribble frequently. By sliding down my mitt cuff, I can quickly wipe the dribbles away without exposing any skin. I just toss them in the laundry hamper once we get home and grab another pair for the next outing. I need to decide at this point about which mitts to wear – the warmer snowmobile ones or those ones used for skiing. Once I make my mitt choice, you would think dressing was over. Nope!
In our family, safety comes first. I reach for the safety vest – a bright orange and yellow one – as well as a head lamp. To be honest, I feel like a minion with the one light beaming in the darkness. Both the vest and lamp alert drivers and snowmobilers to our presence on the road and trails. Sidewalks are not cleared of the snow here. One is forced to walk alongside the road. Being illuminated is important. Did I mention that things are getting somewhat hot at this point? I am still in the heated house and look at Bailey with envy. The only effort that she puts forth is waddling to where her leash and collar are kept. Oh, how I wish for her fur coat!
Bailey knows that the end is in sight when I place my feet into the boots. The coolness of the garage helps with heat overload. My concern now is if I am able to still bend over and tie up my boots after excessively indulging in holiday baking. Thankfully, I manage. Bailey races by me, eager to get on her necklace (actually a collar) and leash. I snap on the waist dog supply pack that holds her waste bags, drool rags, dog whistle and treats. Outside at last, we are ready. Bailey’s enthusiasm is contagious so it does not take long for me to appreciate being outside with our sweetness.