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Winter Guide 2004: Keeping it Real (Warm, That Is)

November 17, 2004, 12:00 am
By
Jack Frost roasting on an open fire...hot cider, anyone?


Recently, your author made a summer-long excursion to her native state. Let its name not be mentioned; let us note only that elderly relatives there still refer to the War of Northern Aggression, and that it's hot. Really hot. Wilt-your-hair, sap-your-bones hot. Whereas we here at 7,200 feet must concede, especially around about the end of daylight-saving time, that for all our much-vaunted 330 sunny days a year-folks, it gets cold. Really cold. Freeze-your-nose-hairs, snap-your-bones cold. So what is a dislocated, chilly Southerner to do-if, that is, she doesn't want to burn as much fossil fuel as a Land Rover? For sultry suggestions ranging from the easily affordable to the extreme, snuggle up and read on.

The Hot Water Bottle
No, they're not just for Grandma any more. These little rubber beauties remain tragically underemployed here in ***image1***the States, yet our European allies wouldn't dream of trying to survive winter without one. In Germany they even come in cute shapes like hearts and fishes, but you can acquire a perfectly serviceable bright-pink oblong from Sav-on or Walgreens for a mere $9.99 (locations throughout Santa Fe). And they're not just good between the flannel sheets: try putting one in your lap when you start the car on a frosty morning.

Tea, Tea, Tea
I asked a friend who lived for two years in an unheated monastery how she kept from freezing her kiester off; her unhesitating response was "gallons and gallons of tea." Boiling the kettle releases steam into the air, holding the mug warms your hands, and long, hot, wet swallows of the stuff heat you from the inside out. Whole Foods Market tea buyer Liz Botell notes that many companies come out with winter blends this time of year, featuring warming spices like ginger and cinnamon; she recommends Third Street Chai ($3.99 per 32-ounce bottle, 753 Cerrillos Road, 992-1700), especially its peppery East Indian Agra blend. And refill with decaf, as caffeine can constrict blood vessels in extremities.

Good Circulation
Perhaps the most imminently affordable form of radiant heat, aerobic exercise can handily hike up your inner thermostat and raise your body temperature for up to six hours. Oddly enough, though, going for the burn really doesn't make you any warmer; light exercise like walking does just fine, whereas something as vigorous as running or cross-country skiing can actually leave you sweaty and chilled. Dress in multiple thin layers to trap dead air for maximum insulation (with inner layers like down and fleece, and an outer shell layer such as Gortex to repel wind), and make sure you guzzle the H2O; even mild dehydration can make you feel colder.

Woolly Hat, Woolly Socks
As usual, Mom was right: you do lose most of your body heat from your neck and head. She also knew that you get what you pay for, so don't settle for one of those skimpy 99¢ polyester jobs; you need a breathable wool blend or a fleece like Polartec to keep your wig truly warm, and a good hat should cover your head and ears completely. As far as your tootsies go, curiously enough, a common cause of cold feet is not fear of relationships but…sweat. You might wonder how it's possible to sweat when it's too cold to move (see Good Circulation). But skin keeps doing its thing no matter what the temperature, and damp feet rapidly become cold feet. New synthetics like CoolMax and "smart wool" (a less-itchy blend) wick moisture away from feet to keep them drier. Get the goods at Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works (328 S. Guadalupe, 984-8221) or Wild Mountain Outfitters (851 St. Michael's Drive, 986-1152).

Hot Tubs
Because sometimes you just need to be poached, and you're even prepared to lower your quailing flesh into scalding water (Eddie Murphy's James Brown skit comes to mind-"Good God! Gonna get me in the hot tub! I can't stand it! Here I go!"). Of course, tout le monde already frequents Ten Thousand Waves and Ojo Caliente, but what about having your very own celebrity hot tub party? Charmaine Coimbra of Genesis Spas and Pool Supply (157 Paseo de Peralta, 982-5546) says that around $2,400 will get you a basic, brand-new model (though you can also spend up to $12,000). "Basically, you're acquiring a chemically dependent child," Coimbra admits ruefully, but stresses that good water maintenance protects owner, tub and environment alike. While you need to drain and refill the tub every few months (and Genesis can analyze samples to ascertain when things are getting overly funky), maintenance costs come primarily from the chemicals needed to keep your water pH-neutral and sanitized: roughly $25 a month for a medium-sized tub.

Other Mammals
There are, perhaps as a final resort, living heat sources to be had, if you can stand cleaning out the litter pan or picking towels up off the floor. Consider adopting a cat or dog from the Humane Society Animal Shelter (1920 Cerrillos Road, 983-4309); they have plenty of fuzzy adorables who just want to come in out of the cold. The imminently reasonable $65 adoption fee includes spaying/neutering and appropriate vaccinations (licensing fees are extra), alongside a thorough application process which includes an overnight "sleep on it" reflection period for responsible decision-making. Alternatively, find yourself a boo (the human hot water bottle) through the SFR Personals. Making the former commitment may be more serious than the latter; Fluffy/Rex will still crave your affections come spring thaw, while Brad/Tiffany may be out the door as soon as it's once again-difficult though it may be to imagine now-bikini weather.

 

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