Cold is relative. All you have to do is watch people and you will find different body thermometers. Whether summer or winter, you find people dressed differently, some looking overdressed in summer, some looking underdressed in winter. There is no place where this is more apparent than a city where you see all modes of dress.

When our family had Christmas and all the family came home, our grandkids were more excited about seeing snow as they were the gifts under the tree. They didn't have any at home. So they played outside a good part of the day, building a snowman with their uncle's help (mostly the uncle who built a snowman doing a handstand), building a snow fort back at the ditch were there was lots of drifted snow, and having snowball fights.

None of them had boots, none had heavy winter jackets, in fact one got away back into the field with just his long-sleeve shirt, no coat. By the time they came up, socks and shoes were wet through, gloves wet, cheeks rosy, but none complained of the cold. They were laughing and having a good time.

So cold must be relative. I understand that somewhat. There are days when I am totally warm without heavy winter coats on cold days, and other days when I just can't seem to get warm. I would have to say it's the wind that makes the difference. Wind penetrates.

That's why they give us that wind-chill factor. They didn't have that when I was a kid. If you looked outside and the snow was blowing horizontally, you were pretty sure it was awfully cold outside. If it was summer and you looked outside and saw heat waves shimmering on the horizon, you knew it was plenty hot. Who needed a thermometer or wind-chill factors.

Several years ago, a Christmas gift from one of our sons was a ski trip to Bellefontaine. I had never skied before. When the day came I dressed, or I should say overdressed. By the time I tried skiing on the beginner's hill and fell about twenty times, I found I could hardly get back up due to all those clothes. Too many clothes hampered my movement, kept me overheated and were just too heavy and cumbersome.

We all know that if your are working outside, the work itself keeps you warm. Overdress and you will get too sweaty which is not a good thing when it's cold. That perspiration will soon make you feel cold. That's why our ancestors wore underwear next to their skin made of lightweight wool, it kept them warm even if they perspired. Wool provides warmth even when wet. I'm not sure why many times it was dyed red, unless that exemplified heat.

Temperature differences must work the same way in summer. Take by Grandfather who lived with us for several summers. He was born in 1885 and wore long sleeved shirts all summer, regardless of the temperature, and long underwear most of that time. How he managed on hot summer days was beyond me. I had shorts and a sleeveless shirt while he was covered from head to toe. He wore his underwear to bed and slept upstairs. Remember these were the days when there was no air conditioning and it got hot! up there. When asked he would just smile and not answer. Since we were his youngest grandchildren, perhaps he was tired of being asked the same questions.

So cold is relative. After all, the Inuits kept warm in an igloo, although they had good outer and inner wear made from just the right animal skins. For some reason I just can't think that a cold outside and inside wall could be too warm when winter winds blew, or setting on a bench of snow.

They tell us its several light layers that will truly keep us warm. After that skiing trip it made more sense to dress in lighter layers and let your activity keep you warm. That inner furnace does a pretty good job of it. However, I have always noticed that it takes that inner thermometer a few days to assimilate when the temperatures change over much.

Most of us keep our homes in the low seventies, but I know of people who keep theirs in the fifties. Well, after highs in the teens or twenties during winter, a fifty-degree day seems pretty balmy. I still think I might have a hard time setting in my easy chair and keeping warm at fifty degrees, at least when the sun wasn't shining. The sun makes a world of difference on any day, winter or summer. It has heat even on the coldest days of winter and its warmth can reach your face.

No matter where your inner thermometer is set, remember that with weather, there will be a day sooner or later that is just perfect for you. Make the most of it for tomorrow it will be different. If you are a winter lover, these days were made just for you. If you hanker for spring and summer, well, they are just around the corner.

So cold is relative. Temperatures that are one person's heaven may not be to another. Age, gender, activity level, time of year all these make a difference in the body's ability to keep us warm. One good thing about winter, however, is that it takes more calories to keep us warm. That's a good thing!


Jeannine Roediger has lived on a family farm all her life, first as a farmer's daughter and now as a farmer's wife. She writes weekly for the Times Bulletin and enjoys gardening, quilting, cooking, bird watching and writing.