Being out in the world as much as we safely can before cold weather prevents it

Sunday might have been the last warm (upper 70s) day of the year. So Margaret and I went out in the evening for dinner and drinks, to places where we could sit outside. Forgive my regrettable selfie skills, but here we are wrapping up our night with a delicious lowland scotch at a Scottish restaurant on the downtown avenue where all the hip kids go.

I’m sure we’ll have a few nights in October where we can do the same, as long as we dress for chilly weather.

We need to make a point of being out in the world, and of seeing people we care about, as much as we safely can before cold weather prevents it. In Indiana, except for wintertime activities like sledding or snowball fights, we stay inside from sometime in November through sometime in March. That’s four to five months of isolation.

With that in mind, I bought a propane fire pit for our deck. It was advertised as putting out 50,000 BTUs. That sure sounded impressive! I hoped it would make our deck hospitable until it gets truly cold here. We’ve used it a couple of evenings now, inviting extended family to talk and laugh with us.

Unfortunately, the fire pit is warm within only a few feet, and only across your face and torso. After the sun set the other night, temperatures fell into the upper 50s — and we all went in for jackets and blankets. If we keep bundling up and we have a mild autumn, the fire pit could let us use the deck through about the end of October. I guess that’s better than nothing.

Margaret and I have made it clear to the kids who still live with us: no spending time inside with friends, and no going into places where people don’t wear masks (e.g., restaurants). We’ve talked about how we might be able to see our friends and family during the cold months, but so far none of us has come up with any bright ideas.

This is going to be a long winter. We’ll need to show each other extra grace and kindness.


12 responses to “Being out in the world as much as we safely can before cold weather prevents it”

  1. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    Your deck looks very inviting… we had two full months of almost complete isolation (no visitors or visiting, leave the house only for essential shopping and solitary exercise) as we came into winter. Auckland has had a second less restrictive lockdown. Over the ditch in Australia, Melbourne is just starting to relax a little after two months strict lockdown including a curfew. The good news is that it does keep people safe. And, by all doing it we have now been able to go back to moving about freely, within our borders. :) But it has been a surreal experience, and the world we thought we knew has changed….the effects will continue to make themselves obvious over the months and years ahead. I think for at least the foreseable future people are going to stay much closer to home….

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I wonder if we’ll see a spike in cases and they’ll lock us down again this winter. Plenty of people are going into restaurants and other places where masks aren’t possible, and I think it’ll get worse as our ability to gather outside goes away.

      1. Steve Mitchell Avatar

        The book is still being written ;)

  2. Darts and Letters Avatar
    Darts and Letters

    There must be a run on propane heaters for outdoor patios, I swear. Among other people in our neighborhood, our immediate next door neighbors got themselves a freestanding, tall chrome propane heater for their backyard. They’ve had lots of outside, mostly socially-distanced gatherings this summer for different family and friends……their plan is to continue the same into autumn. Of course, we have the luxury of a much milder, temperate climate than you do. But still, this was forward thinking of you to get the heater. I hope you’ll get some really good use out of it. Thanks for the reminder about extra grace and kindness. Makes me resolve to reach out more to friends who might need a pick me-up.

    p.s. and thanks for adding me on Flickr! I was on there, 2004-2011. It’s pretty fun perusing pictures on it from time to time, the tile design is far more pleasant than I remember.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I considered one of those tall chrome jobs. But I worried that the winds would keep knocking it over — it can get very windy in our back yard. We sat under one of those at dinner at a restaurant recently, and it did throw off noticeably more heat then our fire pit, however.

      I love Flickr, it’s one of my very favorite things about the Internet.

  3. brandib1977 Avatar

    A lot of people around here are getting fire pits and outdoor heaters. I’m so glad you’re doing the same and planning ahead! This has been on my mind a lot too. Meanwhile, I’m glad you both got our for a little fun!!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      We went out for Mexican last night and sat outside — all alone, as it was just 58 degrees and most people I suppose didn’t want to deal with the cold.

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Lol. I’m an Ohio girl. We’re still wearing shorts when it’s 58. Isn’t it fun feeling like you have the place to yourself??

  4. Jerome Avatar

    Jim, glad to see you are getting out before winter.

    Since I started gardening, my attitude toward winter has changed 180 degrees. The last few winters have been so mild that my perennials, which were killed by a hard frost in November, were out of the ground again in January. Two years ago, I had Black-eyed Susans blooming on New Years Day. Warm winters mean more insects as well as less hearty blooms in spring and summer, so I’m hoping for a cold January.

    Even so, cold here is not Midwest cold, so I’ll venture out more and get a few shots I’ve been considering that only work in winter.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I would be alarmed to find plants popping through the Earth in January here!

      Winters are milder here now than during my 1970s-80s kidhood. There are plenty of opportunities for photography, even in January and February. The main lesson I’ve learned is that my oldest gear doesn’t like that kind of cold, so break out the more modern stuff like my Nikon N90s.

  5. Khürt Williams Avatar

    My wife and doing the same. We had our weekly socially distanced dinner date at the local tavern today and were joking about wearing ski type layers for when the weather turns frigid.

    Nice deck.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I was in “the village” in Zionsville yesterday and see that most of the restaurants are putting those alien-looking propane heaters into their outdoor seating spaces. We might be able to eat out for a couple months more yet!

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