By Hannah Reich Berman

The temperatures last week can only be described as brutal. Never in my life have I dressed in layers. Sure, now and then I might have worn a sweater under my jacket if it was exceptionally cold. But last week’s cold was not exceptional–it was unbearable. And wearing a sweater under a winter jacket does not in my opinion really count as “layering,” in my opinion.

Last week there were days (and one evening) when I had to go outdoors when I actually layered. I put on a tank top, over which I wore a long-sleeved polo, and over that a heavy sweater. I wore a woolen skirt over several other layers. And I wore socks so thick that I had a hard time getting my boots to fit over them.

In the past, regardless of how cold it was, I never wore a hat. I work hard to get my spiky hairstyle, and I never wanted to end up with “hat hair.” Since the hood of my jacket is loose, the most I ever did to cover my head was to pull that up. But all bets were off last week. I wore a tight-fitting wool hat, pulled the hood over that, and then secured the hood with a warm scarf.

I wore two pairs of gloves.

All this was mighty uncomfortable because everything seemed to be shifting around. I was like a seven-layer cake without the frosting in between to hold the layers in place. And, never having eaten sausage and never having been one, I am not sure if this is accurate, but I can say only that now I know how a stuffed sausage feels–if a sausage is able to feel.

My discomfort, however, lasted only until I got outside. As soon as I closed the door behind me, I was glad to have gone to such extremes. I even held the ends of my scarf up to my face to cover my cheeks, mouth, and nose. If I owned a face mask, I would have worn that!

It is different for children. Kids have a unique tendency never to feel cold. On one of the 10-degree days, one of my grandchildren showed up at my door without benefit of a hat, scarf, or gloves. She was not even wearing tights or boots, just socks and shoes. And, to complete the look, even her neck was exposed. Just looking at her made me shiver. But she was not alone. There were other teenagers out and about who also appeared not to feel the cold.

On one of those freezing days, when the temperature was 11 degrees and the wind-chill effect was —17, I ventured out of my ice castle (formerly known as my house) to go to the bank. It was then that I saw an even more bizarre sight: Walking casually down the street were three teenage girls, and two of the three were wearing the “in” look–tattered jeans with large holes at the knees. I truly could not believe my eyes.

At the moment, my fingers feel stiff with cold as I sit at my computer and tap at the keyboard to write this piece. The thermostat is set at 78 degrees, but the room temperature is reading far below that. My house does not want to get warm enough to satisfy me. I have to go out tomorrow, but the television is on and set to the Weather Channel and I just heard good news about tomorrow’s forecast. I am comforted to learn that the temperatures will rise into the 30s. It might not go above 32 degrees; nevertheless, it will feel practically like a heat wave. But I will not break out my summer clothing just yet, since the forecast is for another cold snap to follow the brief warmup. Did I just say warmup?

To be sure, we have had cold winters before, but for some reason I do not remember days as cold as these. My memory may be failing due to the aging process, or it might be something else. Maybe it is because when I was younger the cold did not bother me quite so much. But it certainly does now. And when I see my heating bill for February, it will undoubtedly bother me a lot more. That’s the way it is. v

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.



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