The elements

I’ve always considered myself to be an outdoorsy person.  I like to be outside.  I’m a horseback rider, and have been for over 25 years.  I’ve taught riding, on and off for years, too.  I like to walk outside, go camping and swim, too.  So, it has come as a bit of a shock to me that now, with no outdoor hobbies, I am more in touch with the weather and it’s slight permutations than I ever have been before.

Part of it is our apartment.  At home, we lived in a north-facing apartment with windows on only one wall.  At both of my last two jobs, before leaving the workforce when Benjamin was born, I rarely even saw outside, and was only out in the weather on my way to or from work.  On the other hand, our apartment here has windows on all 4 sides, and a terrace in the middle.  I can go outside without leaving my apartment.  We don’t have central air, and (ironically) our heat is somewhat centrally controlled by the City of Vienna (I’m still learning about how this works, as it’s just starting to get cold).  I’m much more aware of the amount of cloud cover, precipitation and temperature than I ever have been before while indoors, to be sure.  Now that Benjamin is in school, I also have an hour long commute to pick him up and bring him home every day.

I don’t have a car, so when I do go out, into the weather, it’s not just a quick dash from door to car, and then from car to school and back.  I’m out, walking in the weather (whatever it may be) at least every weekday.

Today was a rainy, cold day in Vienna.  It was a major reminder of something I’ve been slowly realizing:  I can’t just grit my teeth, “make do” and get through the weather in Vienna (especially the upcoming winter).  Today was rough, and it’s October.  We just don’t have the equipment.  My boys have rain coats, but not enough layering pieces to put underneath when it’s cold and rainy but not so inclement as to pull out the winter parkas.  And, their legs are mostly unprotected from the elements (particularly an issue for Liam, who is in the stroller, legs out).  Neither of them have rain boots (or, for that matter, snow boots) right now.  I don’t own a functional umbrella.

When I first got here, I was surprised by all the “weather gear” I saw.  The Viennese seem to have about 12 different kinds of coats, twice that many kinds of footwear, scarves for use in all types of weather (literally — they wear them in July), plus hats, gloves, mittens, balaclavas.  They have rain covers as well as snow buntings for their strollers.  Their strollers even have holsters for their umbrellas.

Today was a good lesson in outerwear.  I wore my raincoat and boots — I was fine.  Benjamin wore his raincoat and sneakers — he was ok, but was worried about getting his light-up shoes in the rain puddles, lest it short them out (not something I had thought of?).  Poor Liam.  I put him in fleece pajamas, to make sure he was snug and covered, and then put his raincoat on top.  His clothes got pretty wet, but he stayed dry.  Of course, once we went inside the trains and the school, he got overheated in about a second.

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It’s only October.  I need to get myself equipped.

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