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In Our Own Backyard...Starve a cold, feed a cabin fever

A week or so ago, a friend of mine signed off on an email with, “Stay warm!” Seems we’ve been hearing that a lot lately. In fact, it it’s pretty much become the mantra for all of us during this Minnesota winter. When we run into someone in the grocery store, or after church, or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, the first thing we talk about is the weather — how deep the snow is, how cold the temperature is, how low the wind chill is or how gloomy the day is. And then, after a few minutes of “weather talk,” we part ways saying, “Stay warm!” “Keep cozy!” or “Bundle up!”

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It’s one of those inane things we can’t seem to help ourselves from saying,  like “Have a great day!" or “Have a good one!”

The only problem with the whole “Stay warm!” thing is that in my ongoing effort to keep warm, I’ve found I eat more comfort food and exercise a whole lot less. And that can only add up to one thing — winter weight gain. Oh, it’s fine as long as I’m wearing my down jacket, turtleneck, heavy sweater and long pants but I know it’s lurking under there, and despite the forebodings of the local weather man, summer is going to roll around sooner or later….

This winter weather has also made me somewhat obsessive-compulsive. I find that I’m doing certain things almost constantly, in a subconscious effort to survive. I’m afraid to let the gas in my car drop below half a tank, worrying about gas line freeze up. And so, instead of filling my car once a week or so, I find I’m swinging by one of the local stations every few days, “just to top it off.”

We tried that with our propane company, too, but they were reluctant to drive all the way out to our house to deliver half a tank of propane….

I’ve had a hard time staying out of the grocery store, too. Even though my refrigerator and pantry are stocked to the hilt, I feel I have to stop and pick up “just a few more things” every other day or so — just in case the next big blizzard or deep freeze should hit and leave us stranded.

A couple of weeks ago, I was slated to attend a banquet in the Twin Cities. Even though I was only going to be gone overnight, I felt the familiar tug toward the grocery store to get a few things to tide my husband over while I was away. I ended up bringing home a pot pie, the makings for tuna hot dish, chicken salad for sandwiches, a loaf of bread, three heads of  romaine and an entire cherry pie.

“Do you expect me to eat all this?” he exclaimed. And though the intelligent side of me knew he couldn’t, I needed to feel as though he had plenty on hand to eat, “just in case.”

That’s kind of the way it's been going this winter. We've been packing away the meatloaf, the macaroni and cheese, the pot roast and the hot dishes — just because we feel entitled to eat heartier during the extreme snow and cold. Last night on my way home from work, I stopped at the store to buy suet for the birds and I ended up with three packages of turkey legs, potatoes, a loaf of bread and a block of cheese. Since I already had meatball-tortellini soup in the crock pot, and chicken-taco hotdish left over from the Super Bowl, I didn’t really need any of those things — but I wanted to be certain we had something to fall back on.

There has been another offshoot of this winter’s extraordinarily cold and snowy winter. We had a frozen water pipe break in our house, a leak in our roof and had to replace the boiler as well, the cost of propane has practically quintupled in the period of only a few months and we find we can no longer afford to go on that beach vacation we’d been planning just one short month ago. But that’s OK — because this way I don’t have to worry about how I’ll look in a swimming suit!