We made our way to the eighteenth century and back again yesterday, for a one-day event outside Chicago. The rescheduled day-trip was a reminder of why our regular "season" stops in late October: Anything after that starts to get, simply put, miserable. But we had our little ways of coping and managed to survive and even enjoy ourselves. I learned two lessons worth passing on.
One: This may seem obvious, but fires can singe eyelashes.
Two: Even if you don't think that the shake-to-activate foot warmer packs aren't working, they are. To elaborate: My feet didn't feel warm all day. To the contrary, they were pretty stiff--but when I pulled the little packs out at the end of the day when I changed indoors, they were toasty. I'm now realizing that, without a little chemical help, I wouldn't have felt my feet at all. Yay for heat-producing, probably dangerous chemicals to put in close proximity to my body.
Often I think we chalk up our ancestor's ability to deal with this kind of weather and hardship to "being used to it" or "they were hardier than us." While I agree that our forebearers were certainly a less whiney lot, and had more experience having their faces scoured by biting ice pellets in a November wind, I don't think that they were immune. I think they cursed inwardly at the downpours and wished desperately for a warmer pair of socks in the snow--and that makes managing to withstand and prosper despite the downright nastiness much more impressive.
Regardless, I'll opt for winter camping with shake-to-activate foot warmer pack do-jobs rather than without.