I forgot to wear my coat

Well, can I count myself as a bona fide Montanan now? Impervious to the cold.

I forgot to wear my coat to work one day last week and never noticed. Y’all, it was three degrees outside. Three degrees!!

Who forgets to wear a coat when it is three degrees outside?! Well, me. Here’s how it happened, or as my friend April H says, “See, what had happened was… “

Yesterday the high was forecast to be only nine degrees, so it was time to dress warm for work. I planned to wear my pink, white, and blue knit Nordic print skirt with navy fleece lined leggings, a hot pink thermal shirt, a blue fleece jacket, and my iron colored Ariat Equestrian boots.

When it is in the single digits or below zero, experience has taught me that my legs get cold, even in pants, so lately on single digits days, I wear my Carhartt outdoor gear to work, along with Muck boots. The Carhartts are navy quilted, insulated bibbed coveralls and a plum colored coat, also well insulated. The Muck River boots are “Artic Sports,” which are neoprene and rubber, comfort rated to forty below zero. I have yet to be cold in this get up.

So yesterday I put on wool socks, the leggings, shirt and jacket. I rolled up my skirt and stowed it in my tote bag, along with the Ariat boots. I sat on the stairs near the door and put toe warmers on the bottoms of my socks for extra comfort. I pulled on the Carhartt coveralls and slipped into the Muck boots. I picked up my tote bag and purse and headed out the door. With gloves but without a coat.

Now let me explain what all is involved in getting from my front door to the back door at work.
First, a walk from the house to John’s truck, because he chauffeurs me to the Tahoe. See, our driveway is a snowy mess. It is so bad that when a neighbor came over to plow us out the other day, his TRACTOR GOT STUCK and he had to go home. Tractors don’t get stuck.

Belle surveys our snowy mess of a driveway.

Our driveway is an eight tenths of a mile long, mostly uphill headed to the house, mostly downhill headed to the gate at the entrance to our property. Please don’t think we are fancy. The gate is a green tube livestock gate.

Our not-so-fancy gate.

The only way to navigate our driveway is to put on all four gnarly snow chains on the tires and drive in 4 wheel drive low, or as John calls it, “granny gear.”So that I don’t have to chain up and off every day, we park the Tahoe just inside the gate.  John keeps his truck chained up, and he chauffeurs me back and forth from house to Tahoe and back. Bless his heart, he also goes out and starts the truck about ten minutes before we drive down the hill.  The truck is toasty warm when we get in, so I can understand not missing my coat in the truck.  But at the bottom of the hill, I make two trips from truck to Tahoe with all my gear.  Did I mention that it was three degrees? Here’s where I begin to wonder about myself.

There is a reason we call this combo hill/curve “dead man’s curve.” 

The thermostat in the Tahoe is not working properly, so it takes about thirty minutes for the Tahoe to heat up, which coincidentally, is about how long it takes  to drive to work when the roads are clear, which they were that day. The two mile road from our gate to the highway is snowy but plowed and well groomed (thanks to our neighbors with plows), so with studded snow tires, it’s easy getting down the mountain to the highway. But gosh, it is cold in the Tahoe!  It had to be well below freezing.

Warmin’ up the Tahoe, the engine, anyway.

Halfway into town, I stop at Kelly Rae’s for coffee.  K Rae’s, as John and I call it, is our local gas station/convenience store/gathering spot.  They brew a mean dark roast coffee, and it is only seventy- five cents to fill my hydroflask.  There’s a long table with chairs by the coffee, with a few copies of the local paper.  So each morning I stop for coffee and to read the front page of the paper.  Walked back and forth across the icy parking lot.  Did I mention that it was only three degrees?

Pulling into the parking lot at work, the Tahoe is finally starting to warm up.  I grab my purse and tote bag and walk nearly TWO blocks from the Tahoe to the back door at work.  Still don’t miss the coat. (??!!)

Get to work, peel off the Carhartt coveralls, slip on my skirt, change boots. It was actually hot indoors in the fleece jacket.

The lonely coat at home.

I don’t realize the coat is missing until the end of the day when I am dressing to go out the door.  Where is it??! I look all over the store, to no avail.  Is it in the Tahoe?  Walking out to the car, I am aware of being without a coat, but still am not cold.  That fleece jacket is apparently some kind of powerful warm. No, the coat is not in the Tahoe.  Now mildly panicked, I call John.  Why yes, the coat is at home, hanging on the hook by the door, right where I left it.  Even sans coat it was not cold driving home in the unheated Tahoe. John met me at the gate (with a warm truck!) and he drove us up the hill to our home.

There’s a local guy who wears shorts 365 days a year.  Now I get it.  It’s really not that cold.