img_1758My nose is cold, but the rest of me is wrapped in a down comforter. I’m wondering how many more days we can last before we turn on the heat. That’s not a decision driven by our budget, but sort of a self-imposed challenge. We know winter will be cold and long, and we are resisting the final concession that mild days are behind us. Like most changes of season, it rarely happens in one stroke. November still has some sunny days that warm up our condo, and by the time it cools down, we’re going to bed. But in the mornings, it’s a race to shower and dress.

Once we get our first snow, that’s it, the heat goes on, but we will keep it at a moderate 74 or 75. When the kids visit, they think we’re crazy; I tell them to put on a sweater and socks. I love layering up and it’s the correct adaptation to Chicago winters. Long underwear, turtlenecks, scarves, hats, gloves, boots. All my winter armor is at the ready.

When we first moved to Chicago the condo building we lived in had centrally controlled heating and air conditioning. We could decide if the blower in our unit was on, but building management decided which system was available. So when the heat was on in October and it was 78 degrees outside, people would throw open their windows in an attempt to cool off. Likewise, if there was a chilly evening in June, all you could do was close your windows and dig out a blanket.

I have something akin to a secret weapon for winter. This hot geyser occasionally overwhelms my internal thermostat so that I feel like steam is coming off of my skin. I yank a layer off, I fan myself, I lay my bare arms on the granite kitchen island and think I hear a sizzling sound. In a few minutes, the layers go back on. Unfortunately, this heat surge knows no season, and just as often makes summer momentarily unbearable as well. There’s no building manager I can complain to, so I guess I’ll just have to open a window.


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