Dawson in the deep freeze

The most annoying thing about being fully dressed to walk outside at -45 degrees Celsius is that I can’t see my feet. You don’t tend to think a lot about seeing your feet, but it becomes important when your range of motion is restricted by a parka and heavy winter pants, when your legs don’t bend quite as much as normal and when you have to wear a scarf across your face to ward off frostbite.

That was me this afternoon, heading down to the offices of the Klondike Sun to put some finishing touches on the latest edition, which will have already been displaced by the next one by the time you read this. It was a pleasure to do this. My rapidly growing cataracts had rendered me nearly incapable of doing any serious computer work by last November, about a year after my left eye began to blur and react badly to light. 

The right eye followed suit about seven months later. It’s the one that was operated on a couple of weeks ago. Much as I look forward to having them both back some time in February, the crystal clarity of one eye makes me feel almost normal this week.

Now, about those feet.

It’s the scarf, you see. You really do need one across your lower face and nose at -45 degrees Celsius, which is what all the weather apps were telling me it was this afternoon at the airport. It might be a little warmer in town, some 15 to 20 minutes northwest, but the digital thermometers at the front (west) and back (east) doors of our house tend to be unreliable below -40, so I believed the weather apps.

The scarf keeps you from looking down, adding to the restriction created by wearing a hood. There are steps to go down to leave the house. There is an uneven road surface. It’s been plowed, but it still has chunks of icy snow and little ruts from the passage of the plows and other vehicles. So there’s a chance of a stumble and it’s so much harder to get back up once you’re bundled for the weather.

Denied downward peripheral vision, you end up walking strangely, not quite confident of where you are on the street, gingerly feeling for possible loose or elevated boards on the boardwalks. Then it’s up the steps at the Legion Hall (we rent the back half) without tripping when your knees don’t bend as far as normal.

All told, it was an interesting walk in both directions. And for all the inconveniences, I enjoyed the fact that my one really good eye kept me from needing to wear glasses, which meant that my vision wasn’t fogged up by the warm air I was breathing out.


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