Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Boiler, or When Winter Won't Stay Outside

            Today the daytime high was around 5 degrees above zero. The weather report says that the current windchill is around negative 15. Which makes it a perfect weekend to walk three miles to work in the dark. Dressing for the outing is more straightforward than you might think – I just put on as many layers as I can, and at some point I get so bulky that the zippers won’t close all the way. Then it’s time to cinch up my balaclava and brave the ice on my back steps. 

            The walk is beautiful, especially because as I get into town, the sun is just starting to come up. The stars are still out; the snow on the mountains is reflecting blue, and the mountains at the entrance to the bay are just coming into view through the dark.  I have about ten seconds to ponder how I am so lucky that this is my daily commute. Then the wind comes ripping down the valley with bitter fury of a thousand jilted ex-girlfriends. I pull my hat lower, and go back to scanning the sidewalk for black ice.  

            The entire walk-to-work plan would not be possible without my Yaktrax – a set of steel studs that I can attach to the soles of my boots. I would like to publicly give Yaktrax a huge thank you for making boot studs that make it possible to walk on Seward’s ice-covered sidewalks at something approaching a normal walking speed. Not only can I make it downtown in less than an hour, but I can actually walk fast enough that my legs stay somewhat warm.   

            Also on the weather front, the boiler in the house decided to go on strike at some point this afternoon.  I came home at 6pm to a cold house, and figured I just needed to put on a sweater.   And a maybe hat.   And then dive under a blanket with a cup of hot tea.   Finally, I drug a space heater out of the basement; when I turned it on, the temperature sensor blithely informed me that it was 32 degrees inside the house. (Though I don't think it was actually  that cold.) That was when I decided I should call my landlord, who walked me through resetting the boiler, which through some quirk of the electrical system had turned itself off.   An hour and a half later, the space heater informs me that it is now at a comparatively balmy 54.   My landlord’s dog Remington has given up on trying to convince me to take him outside (why he wants to take a walk at these temperatures I’m not really sure) and is curled up on my bed like a very shaggy electric blanket.  

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