The average winter temperature in western Massachusetts is between ten degrees and thirty degrees. New England is cold; no surprises there, right? When I began this vehicle dwelling adventure I knew that eventually it would get cold enough that I would need to figure out how to exist in my car during the chilly months. This is so far the coldest it has been around here, cold enough to prompt a frantic early morning telephone call from my mother (when I didn’t answer she got online and started researching how many homeless people freeze to death each year).
When I woke up this morning, all snug in my bed, I poked my head out from under the covers… an immediately retreated back to the warmth like a turtle escaping danger. It was freezing! My thermometer read 6 degrees, about 18 degrees lower then it’s ever gotten, so I un-suctioned it from the window and brought it under the covers with me. I knew that I was going to be getting calls about the temperature today and I wanted to be able to assure people that I was fine. So what was the temperature under the covers? A balmy 65 degrees: perfect sleeping weather.
For those of you who go south for the winter: right on. For those of you who can’t go south, here are three things that make my home bearable on those chilly nights:
- Divide the car in half with curtains. The smaller the space the less it takes to heat and my body temp normally keeps the place pretty comfortable.
- Stock up on blankets. Sleeping bags are great if you have them, but I’ve found that a comforter and a few wool blankets do wonders.
- Cover your windows with some sort of insulating fabric. It gives you privacy and keeps you toasty.
Now to put things into perspective. In The Zincali: An account of the Gypsies of Spain the author discusses the Zingani, or Russian Gypsies, and their ability to resist extreme cold.
“…the vast majority… traverse the country in bands… Their power of resisting cold is truly wonderful, as it is not uncommon to find them encamped in the midst of the snow, in slight canvas tents, when the temperature is twenty-five or thirty degrees below the freezing-point.” (Borrow p 143)
Every year people climb Everest (voluntarily) and frequently deal with temps of -25, and that’s with no wind chill. Cold happens, and whether you are somehow resistant, like the gypsies, or very well prepared, like Sir Edmond Hillary, I hope you’re all staying warm this winter.