How do you describe the bite of winter’s chill?

You’ve undoubtedly heard of iced tea and iced coffee, but how about iced juniper? Freezing rain preceded us on a recent trip and we discovered iced everything when we stopped in Cache Creek to fuel the truck. The sidewalks were slick, plants and branches shimmered, and the sky moped silver grey.

(A click or two will enlarge to view detail)

Boy, was I cold! Even with my fleece jacket zipped and hoodie tugged tightly over my ears, I still shivered. I read somewhere that shivering, or the twitching of muscles, is a physiologic method of heat production. Who knew??? It didn’t seem to help much that day, but I suppose my body realized I wasn’t in any danger of approaching hypothermia.

Back in the truck I flipped the switch to activate our heated seats (I know, I know… it’s a ridiculous luxury, but it was a feature already installed when we bought the truck second-hand) and then spun the heater’s dial to high. As I waited for my hubby to join me, I thought about one of the characters in my novel who relocated from a balmy city to the winter-chilled north country. In an effort to ‘show not tell’, there are numerous scenes where I need to display how he copes with frigid temperatures. How many ways can you indicate a person is very cold?

That’s a good question for today. Are any of your characters ever in the position of being uncomfortably or dangerously cold? What ways do you (or could you) choose to show, not tell, how they react? 

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4 thoughts on “How do you describe the bite of winter’s chill?

  1. joylene says:

    Your timing is perfect as usual. I’m cold most days, menopause has ended. LOL. But my protagonist is currently freezing so this is a great help. Thanks, Carol. Have you read the Emotional Thesaurus yet? It’s great for this type of showing too.

  2. Katt says:

    She clinched her teeth and parted her blue lips! ha ha——now I’m cold…..this is a great post. You always make me think….shame on you….:D

  3. Great challenge. I lived in the Great Lakes region, so I know what it’s like to be cold. I’ll give it a try:

    Grateful for long pants and a warm jacket, still she shivered. Turning her back to the icy wind blasts and raising her arms to cover the vulnerable flesh of her face with leather gloved hands, she peeked through her fingers seeking shelter.

  4. Carol says:

    Hi, everyone. Thanks for stopping in today.

    Joylene, no I haven’t read the Emotional Thesaurus, although I’ve heard before that it can be very useful.

    Katt, sorry to make you cold. You just aren’t used to the kind of exposure we get up here in Canada. ;)

    Carol Ann, I can easily imagine your character facing that icy blast! I hope none of us has to do the same anytime soon, but December is coming and the cold won’t hold off indefinitely here. Joylene is more north than I am and already has more snow than she probably wants.

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