I'm Down With That

Thursday, February 25, 2010
I have a dear friend who is allergic to down. She travels frequently for her work and often has to speak with the front desk of hotels to exchange the down pillow they provided her room with for one with hypoallergenic fill. Since I’m a wimp when it comes to confrontation (it can be hard being a Minnesotan: how loath we are to make cold calls or to send food back) I’ve always been grateful to be free of such an allergy, among other reasons. Just as it’s hard to imagine going camping with a peanut allergy, it’s hard for me to imagine surviving a winter in northern Minnesota with a down allergy.

That said, my life has been largely down free. But that all changed this Christmas when Andy gave me a down vest. Since then, I’ve been a down convert. The vest gets worn almost every other day. Since my desk is right next to a window, when I’m sitting at the computer for hours on end, I often find myself needing any extra layer.

Simultaneously, this winter my winter coat marked its tenth year in my possession. The coat has been worn to death. After ten years of wear, the only wardrobe malfunction it’s experienced is the zipper pull tab breaking off a couple years ago. While I’m sure it will continue its legacy of wear, at ten years old it’s starting to look a bit dated and it’s always been a bit too long. I haven’t been actively looking for jacket to replace said antique for my everyday winter outerwear, but it’s crossed by mind a couple times every winter that it might be time for a new coat.

Yesterday, I made a very fast trip down to Duluth to run errands (oh the joy of having groceries and toilet bowl cleaner again) and after lunch in Canal Park, Andy and I wandered over to the Duluth Pack store because I was interested in looking at their stock for an article I’m working on. One thing led to another and I ended up walking out the door with a down winter jacket in tow. Well, I guess I’d kind of been looking for a new jacket. . . .

The jacket got a good test last night. We’ve been having pretty balmy temperatures for highs later, but it’s been getting well below zero every night. When I drove home from work last night it was -6 and when I walked into the Shack, the temperature display on the off-peak heater display read “42.” Because we’d been out of the house all day, we hadn’t been blocking the door (when we’re inside, we stuff blankets against the floor crack and also drape a blanket over the entire door to keep out cold air) nor had the extra space heaters been turned on. As a result, the off-peak heater got overwhelmed and panicked. I ran around in my down vest and down jacket for about an hour last night while I turned on the space heater and did various unpacking chores to keep moving and warm. When the heater’s register read “46,” I went to bed and when I woke up this morning it said “58.” It’s only been just this very hour (4 p.m.) that the heater’s finally hit its regular “65.”

It’s been another week with the “going, going, gone” mentality about it. It seems these days there’s always something I should be, or could be, working on. Being busy has always struck me as a good thing, as long as it’s kept in check. Lives demand fullness.

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