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Mather: I’m out celebrating the cold snap (under six layers of clothes)

Just because it’s -30, that’s no excuse to stay indoors, says columnist Viki Mather. Dress for the weather and enjoy the beauty of winter
(Viki Mather)

One good thing about the really cold days is the sun. It is almost always sunny at 30 below. Sun pours through the windows all morning, effectively heating our little house. And it is so beautiful outside, I want to be there.

I watch the chickadees flittering about the sunflower seeds on the back deck. All fluffed up, but with bare feet, they seem perfectly comfortable with the cold.

Eventually, I gather all the layers of clothes I need to survive a trek outside and spend 10 minutes getting dressed. And I take a little pack with extra mitts, toque and a scarf just in case. 

The day is wonderful indeed. The air so fresh and invigorating, though the moisture from my breath quickly freezes on my eyelashes.

All is well so long as I stay out of the wind. As I cross the open areas of the lake, the wind sucks every bit of warmth away from any part of my body not shielded by six layers of wool, down, and nylon. Argh, it’s cold.

Once I round the corner, the cold is tolerable. Wind at my back, even though I’m in the shade of the trees, I breathe easier. I can take some time to look around without risking frostbite to my exposed cheekbones. Loose snow blows along the surface of the lake, filling in my tracks as I ski along.

Just a little further around the next bay and I’m out of the wind entirely. It’s still 30 below, yet in the shelter of the forest behind me and sun on my face, I feel warm and comfortable at last. Ahhh, warmth.

I get to ski for 10 minutes in the sun and out of the wind. If it were like this everywhere, I could be out all day.

As I stride through the wetland, movement catches my eye. A little dark something hides behind a stump. Then it moves again, crossing the path in front of me. A mink! The sleek dark fur glistens in the sun. She pauses and takes a good look at me, probably baffled by the bulk of my clothes. Maybe laughing at how vulnerable I am in this cold, while she is comfy and warm in her fur coat.

Rounding the next edge of the forest, the wind hits again. It’s a struggle to get home. Extra scarf on my face, I can just see through a slit that’s open to the bitter blowing wind. Breath freezes on the scarf. My head dipped into the wind I make it home and into shelter again. 

Loving winter!

Viki Mather has been commenting for Northern Life on the natural world and life in Greater Sudbury since the spring of 1984. Got a question or idea for Viki? Send an email to