Winter! A time for frolicking in the landscape, making angels in the snow, drinking hot cocoa and marshmallow by the fireplace…
Or as most commuter students can probably sympathize, carrying an extra load of stuff to and from school. I was reminded of the interesting experience that is commuting when I recently read Francesca’s ode to commuters over at blogUT.
I always dreaded commuting during winter months, not only because the TTC and GO Train are as reliable as always (hah), but because I’m carrying extra pounds (and not just from stuffing my face with holiday treats!). These extra pounds I am carrying quite literally.
I thought I was the only one, but I was talking to Lori last week and it turns out, nope, she agreed and told me that she was budgeting extra time to make sure she has her mitts and toque and scarf and other winter gear for her commute.
My commute is a bit weird (do tell me what yours is like in the comments!) – I live around two hours away from campus, so during the four days I have class, I stay at a friend’s place that’s only one hour away. But it means that when I leave the house Sunday night, I have to have Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday’s stuff ready. This includes all the lunch/dinner I’ll be eating, all my school work and changes of clothes. With the amount of stuff I carry, I look like I’m going away at every weekend’s end.
This style of commuting is teaching me how to plan ahead (I schedule by the week) and to pare down to the bare essentials.
But winter – oh glorious winter – just has to add extra layers to my everyday life. Observe; my bag for pre-cold temperatures:
In order, clockwise: Water bottle, wallet, throat lozenges, keys, overnight bag, netbook, contact lens bag, charger, notebook, chopsticks, umbrella, sunglasses and makeup (more mishmash of first-aid and skincare stuff) bag.
Now look at what I have to add during cold temperatures:
Sigh. It’s that much bulkier. And equally messy when I get to class and am trying to take off all the layers in the cramped lecture seats at Sidney Smith. I used to put everything in the seat next to me until I got glared at by classmates who want a seat in a full lecture room; I’ve adapted by taking the aisle seat so I can put everything on the side.
The photo above shows my bulky, cumbersome winter gear from last year. I really wanted to figure out a way to make my life easier this year.
This is what I’ve come up with: Instead of carrying a scarf, I bought a winter coat that has a high and lined zip-up collar. I have a pashmina-type scarf that is thin enough that I don’t mind wearing indoors (so I don’t have to take it off, or find a place for it), but with enough fabric that wrapping it around my neck provides insulation. Instead of thick mitts, I’m using the compact Magic Gloves that I can scrunch up and stuff in my jacket pocket. I also just stuff my hands in my pockets when the cold air is biting through the thin wool. And something I thought was rather clever – instead of using a hat, I use my pair of over-ear headphones instead. It’s an earmuff and headphone all in one!
To my relief, these strategies seem to be working out much better than last year, but I wanted to defer to you, dear readers – what you do to simplify your winter commute before the snow starts hitting in earnest? What is your commute like? How does winter change up your commute? Chat with me in the comments!