We are Emberwood - we go outside in the winter and we dress warmly to embrace the cold. But how?
Avoid cotton, dress in layers, bring extras in a bag and dress more warmly than you think you should for the forecasted weather.
Avoid cotton: The most important thing is to not wear cotton next to your skin. Look at the tag and then don't do it! Even if you have to wear a fleece (not cotton) sweater as the first layer by your skin, do that. If you don't have many outdoor clothes, check your work-out gear, that's probably not cotton. Denim, velvet, flannel - these ARE made of cotton.
Dress in layers: dress more warmly than usual and wear lots of layers. Bring extras in a backpack or little duffel. We will often be sitting, or walking very slowly, so it will feel much colder than usual. For a typical full moon ceremony for example, you might wear two pairs of socks and boots, long johns and sweats and ski-pants, 3-4 layers on top plus your jacket, neckwarmer/scarf, toque, mitts or two pairs of mitts. Blankets or old sleeping bags welcome too!
Dress more warmly than the weather: If the event is in the evening, check the evening or night version of the weather and then dress at least 10 degrees colder or more. So if it is going down to -10, dress for -20 at least… toques, winter coats, ski-pants, etc. (In regular life, if you are going to be exercising outside or even walking briskly, you can actually dress for 10 degrees warmer! But with Emberwood we are always sitting or moving so slowly).
Don’t sweat it: surprisingly, you also don’t want to get too hot in the winter! If you sweat, that water cools next to your skin and keeps you cold and clammy no matter how many layers are above it. So, don’t wear all your layers in your hot car on the way to the event, save some to add once you are outside. If we are walking and you feel hot, stop to remove a layer.
Fashion and identity: For many people on this cold land, we are used to exchanging warmth and comfort to maintain our fashion. Others love the winter because we can just dress for the weather and not have to worry about our style. Both make sense! Identities and how we express ourselves aesthetically can be very important for many people. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your look and authentic self expression for the weather if it doesn’t feel right. But it can be hard to find inexpensive, warm outdoor clothes that fit your style, and maybe you don’t own any. What to do? Maybe you could dress warmly with bottom layers and then put your favourite things on top? Is there some way you can alter some boring-but-warm clothes to make them feel more like you? At Emberwood events, we are all in the same boat: you could also see if you can embrace that our puffy, second-hand-and-borrowed glorious outdoor gear is only a small part of who we are. Binders should be fine at events since we move very slowly and don’t break a sweat. We sit often. When we are exploring, it is at your own pace.
Cancellations: We still do events in the cold but we do not run events when there is that freaky red band saying EXTREME COLD WARNING on this very official environment Canada website. If you see that, watch your email, you will get a notification if your event is cancelled, postponed, or shortened.
What Emberwood provides for the cold:
hot packs for hands or feet
snacks (eating helps your body warm up)
almost all events have a fire and a warm drink
a bin with some extra fleece sweaters to borrow or buy
Detective work: after an event you can learn from yourself by remembering what you wore and comparing it to the temperature. Over time, your body will get a feel for what it needs and you will be more and more in tune with nature. Also note what body part always gets cold first and makes you feel cold all over. For some it is their hands, others feet, hips, or neck. Whatever your cold part is, next time, give that area extra layers.