Goodbye Grumblings

Find the good

Thanks for the cold, Ottawa winter

March 5, 2018

Last week I took the garbage out in boots, jeans, a t-shirt and mittens. It was around minus seven degrees Celsius, cold enough that Id normally want a coat, hat and scarf. It felt wonderful.

I took my time carrying the recycling bin to the curb. I looked at the fresh snow, enjoying how clean everything looked, and strolled with the garbage cans to the curb. I savoured the sight of leftover outdoor Christmas decorations, three oversize shiny red balls hanging in a small naked tree in front of the house, each with a hat of snow.

Lovely, cold snow!

But it wasnt the pretty winter view that kept me outside after the chore was done. It was the slight prickling of cold air on my arms, the relief of it on my neck, scalp and ears. I looked around casually to make sure no neighbours were out doing their garbage, then flapped my shirt back and forth. You know, to encourage airflow.

All my life Ive been cold in winter. I wore socks to bed. I love my shawls and sweaters and wool socks. But now all of a sudden going outside in winter without a coat feels not only wonderful, but necessary.

Husband says my thermostat is broken.

Its not broken: its readjusting.

Ill be 50 soon. Its a nice round number that makes me feel a bit like laughing. Can that really be my age? I wrote about 10 things Im enjoying about getting older last year around my birthday. I still sometimes feel that Im barely an adult because I have so much to learn and improve on.

I dont mind the number. I dont really enjoy the symptoms as I experience them, but I find them fascinating.

Sometimes the heat is sudden and obvious. Other times, it sneaks up on me. Grumblings surfaces, wondering who turned up the heat. I take off my shawl, then my sweater. Sometimes my wool socks. “Ugh. Its really hot in here,” I say. Husband and Things One and Two, huddled in sweaters and blankets, point out that it really isnt. They look suspiciously at me if I go near the window. “Uh oh,” Husband says, when I head to the door and step outside in my bare feet to stand on the wonderful cold step in the very convenient cold of an Ottawa winter night. Grumblings goes to sleep when my feel hit the cold cement.

In some ways, this experience makes me feel connected to other women whove laughed about these same things. Aunt June always had a fan when she stayed with us. I remember Mom padding around the house in bare feet, with a thin knee-length sleeveless nightgown on, throwing open the patio door in the middle of the winter. And I recently bumped into an old schoolmate at a birthday party, who told me she knew exactly what was going on as soon as she saw me wearing a sleeveless top in the dead of winter.

When I wake up too hot, I go and get a drink of cold water, then put cold water on my arms, neck and face, and stand at the back door looking out at the trees. It cools me enough so I can go back to sleep. I wonder what women do in places where it doesn’t get cold. Stand in front of the air conditioner? Wander into a walk-in fridge? Or maybe they just live in the water. In the summer mugginess, I expect that Grumblings and I will think longingly of winter.

I dont know how long it will take before I go back to feeling cold. For now, I am grateful to live in a wintry city. Dear Future Self, in your socks and shawls, heres a reminder of some of the good things about an Ottawa winter:

  1. Variety. On January 31, it was close to minus 20 when it was time to head to work in the morning. By lunchtime the next day, it was 5 degrees and we all had our mittens off and coats open.
  2. The bright days of January are cold like they mean it. Blindingly, face-removingly cold — but theres often a blue, blue sky to compensate.
  3. Slushy streets get a regular redo. Every time it snows, we get a nice white cover-up of the ugly streets and dead plants.
  4. A never-ending supply of small talk. You can always find something to talk about: the most recent snowstorm, the upcoming snowstorm, the unseasonable warmth, the unseasonable cold, the windchill, how much we long for spring.
  5. Its too cold for giant bugs to survive the winter. Fight global warming: keep the giant bugs out of Ottawa! (If you know of any exceptions, dont tell me about them. Any comments about giant bugs existing in Canada will be marked as spam.)

On my menopause journey I expect to continue to enjoy winter and AC, and cold water. Im keeping my eyes out for a fan (finally, a good reason to get one!). If youve been through this, or know someone who has, please tell me what else I should put in my menopause tool kit! Share your thoughts in the comments or email me at susan at


About GrumblingSusan

Word lover. Story addict. Daydreamer. Optimist. Ottawan. Treehugger. Scouter.

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