Leader of the pack at 40 mph

Miriam Nelson
News Editor

Winter doesn’t even officially start until Dec. 21 and already I feel as if I’ve had my fill of it.

The first snowfall was lovely, and I must admit I enjoyed the briskness of the air and the lovely coating of white. I’m usually not sick of it until sometime in early February. This year just seems a little different.

I suppose I’m just a little more sensitive to it since everyone has been talking for months now about how we will have a long, snowy and cold winter. The weather has been the topic of conversation this whole year. We seem to be having not enough of the “good” weather we love about Wisconsin.

I’ve decided to keep my heat at a lower temperature. That decision is partly about conserving energy and partly about keeping me more active in the house. Although in theory it seemed like a good idea, it’s not working out that well.

My sporadic sleep schedule has been a bit of an issue this past year, and I read that keeping the temperature lower at night is better for you. I’m not sure who wrote that article or what kind of research goes into formulating that theory, but it’s not working out for me. I seem to have a harder time leaving the comfort and warmth under my quilt and tend to hit the snooze button more often.

I foolishly thought if I kept a lower temperature in the house that I would be motivated to spend more time on my exercise bike in the morning to get the circulation going. Again, it’s a good theory but doesn’t seem to work in practice for me.

Last Wednesday we had that exceptionally cold day, and I was quite happy that I didn’t have any appointments to take me outside of my home. I enjoyed several cups of coffee over the course of the day, all the while convincing myself the caffeine doesn’t affect my sleep pattern. I also managed some time pedaling away on the oft-neglected exercise bike. Still, by the end of the day I felt “cabin fever” was creeping into my consciousness a good two months early.

When Thursday dawned, I looked forward to going out into the world to interview someone for a story. The weather didn’t seem too bad, the country roads had been plowed and all was right with the world. On my way back, I remembered that I was supposed to pick up the last of my vegetables from the CSA program I’ve been participating in, and I set my course for Wausau — thinking I could outrun the forecasted storm.

The snow seemed light but steady, and I didn’t think too much about it as I ventured out. The trouble with weather is that it isn’t all the same at the same time. When I left the house, traveling seemed like a safe activity. The closer I got to Wausau, the more I questioned my assessment of the situation. By the time I started my return, I realized it probably wasn’t my best decision.

I wasn’t the only one out on the road that day. Truckers and compact car drivers were passing me at a clip, leaving me in a white-out condition that had me slowing down until I could see better. Eventually, even the truckers stopped passing me. By the time I reached Wittenberg, I could see about 20 vehicles in my rearview mirror patiently keeping up with my 40 mph pace.

When I finally returned to the comfort of my home, I treated myself to an extra 2 degrees on my thermostat and a hot cup of tea, caffeine-free.