Tag Archives: winter

…Then the Wind Kicked Up

19 Jan

So I mentioned that last weekend, I went camping. In January. In the desert. So after setting up my tent, enjoying my fire, I put it out and went to bed. Then the wind kicked up…

Now knowing it was going to drop down to 40 degrees F, I had this brilliant plan to create a cocoon to use my body heat to keep my comfortable. I brought A LOT of extra blankets. I had a tarp underneath, two tent liners, two sleeping bags, three pillows, and a quilt that kept me warm through a Connecticut winter. Then to add on top of that, I had three blankets that I didn’t care as much about, that I draped on top of the tent.

So when I got in that night, it was very cozy. Sure, it was cold, but not terrible, and my back wasn’t complaining for sleeping on that dirt.

What I didn’t anticipate was that a 10-15 mph wind was kick in through the desert and knocked my blankets off. So by midnight, my face was freezing. I buried my body under the quilt and the sleeping bag, and had to reverse my hoodie so I was breathing into the back to keep the chill off my face. Because I went to bed at 8 pm (two hours after sunset), I woke up at 3:45 to the rooster kickin’ off his Praise of Dawn. After another half-hour, I finally gave up and started the fire.

Now I normally wake up at 5 am, so this wasn’t terrible, but at home I have my coffee maker working by that point. Here I had to make the fire, get it hot enough, then wait for the water to heat before my instant coffee and cream could be drunk. Sounds awful, but this instant coffee is amazing. An hour later, I was warm again, had my coffee, read my book (by flashlight), and everything was right with the world. However, by the time sunrise had come (although it was overcast), the wind was so bad that I decided, “Screw it, I’m going back to bed.” In my tent, without the wind, I was quite cozy, and kept reading. Then a couple hours later, I was ready to drive to my convention (which I’ll save for another post).

Before I came back to the camp that night, I made sure to pick up somethings. One, I picked up some more charcoal (I had burned through an entire bag), but I also bought some chip clips, and some different food (because it turned out that there was a reason I was avoiding all this meat and bread). So this time, I clipped the blankets down on the poles and weighed down the ends with rocks. I discovered that I could pull the extension cord closer to my tent and plugged in my computer and phone (which got reception). So after my evening fire, I crawled into my tent at 8 pm and played computer games until 10 pm.

The blankets stayed on, my face didn’t freeze, and when I woke up at 5 am, I was quite cozy. This time, I didn’t have to use charcoal to start my fire, and got it going with one match. After my morning coffee and book time, I once again hid in my tent to play computer games. However, the sun finally came out, so by 9 am, it was actually getting HOT in that tent. I folded everything up starting at 11, and by noon, I was already heading home.

I had a great time–and glad to have had the opportunity to relax in the chilly desert. As for why I was in Tucson, I’ll have to leave that for tomorrow.

“For the night is dark and full of terrors.”

7 Feb

It’s winter, and like most people living in the upper latitudes of Earth, the sun doesn’t rise until much later in the day. Which means that it’s dark when I start work and that really saps your motivation to get going. Are we simply “solar powered?”

It doesn’t help that I wake up early (to coordinate with the East Coast of the US), but thanks to the wise sages of Arizona, we don’t follow daylight savings time, so the sun rises a little earlier here than most places. However, something about this winter has made it feel worse. I’m blaming the higher cloud cover. There’s not a hint of light until 7:15, so I’m spending the first hour of my day in this dark beckoning outside the windows.

I have two lamps in my bedroom office and even that still makes it feel like a cave. I’ve come to lighting two candles in salt rock holders (“releases positive ions!”) just to ward off the darkness outside. It’s not quite “seasonal affective disorder,” but it makes it rather uncomfortable to start my day in darkness.

As I’m writing this, the dawn is finally coming, and I’m feeling better already. Then again, my favorite radio show has a guest host, so that throws off my routine. 🙂

It does make me wonder–what is it about the sun that makes us feel better? Perhaps it’s just a natural reaction. As animals, we’re designed to function better during the day; you can see threats coming from a greater distance. Things are growing, it’s warmer… it’s nature’s alarm clock!

Even if you’re used to working at night, your body will adjust quickly back to sun time if you don’t keep with the same schedule. I guess from an evolutionary standpoint, in the upper latitudes, you wouldn’t be planting, it’s colder, you need to preserve your body heat… you’d want to sleep as much as possible and move around less. So why would you wake up before dawn?

It’s going to take a long time for the beast to adapt. However, I could be full of it–what do you think? Is S.A.D. just an illusion or is there a different reason why the night makes us uncomfortable? Let me know in the comments below!

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