Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 01.27.03
Quebec City


Warm as toast

Strange how some things seem to change as you get older.

Back in the era before Gortex or similar synthetics, my mother believed in the layered effect as far as winter clothing was concerned.

The base layer consisted of good old Stanfield longjohns, top and bottom.

Now, I can't prove it, but I'd be willing to bet the material used at the time was a blend of cotton and road-side thistle.

It was fine while you were out in the elements but, the minute you were exposed to any heat whatsoever, it felt like about four million tiny creatures crawling all over your body.

My first four winters in school the teacher presumed I was a slow learner because I never raised my hand for anything.

In actual fact, both my hands were occupied seven hours a day scratching what itched.

On top of the longjohns went a pair of lined blue jeans.

As I recall, my jeans were not only lined but the lining was a ridiculous yellow tartan visible to all because the cuffs had to be rolled up. My mother, you see, always bought me jeans a couple of sizes too large so I could "grow into them."

Now these were fine until they got wet, which was about two minutes after I went outside into the snow.

An eight-year-old's wet denims, by the way, weigh about thirty pounds.

Add to that forty pounds of wet flannel lining and you get the picture.

For the top, my mother had a penchant for plaid flannel shirts. These, in turn, were covered by a hand-knit, cabled-stitched vest or sweater.

Socks were wool. As was the scarf which traditionally was long enough to wrap twice around my neck … or drag two feet on the ground by the end of the day.

All this was topped off with a good solid coat, two pairs of mittens and a toque.

The net result was I could manage the worst of blizzards and stay warm as toast.

As a matter of fact, on one occasion when I undressed at school -- a ten minute process, by the way I was so warm the teacher concluded I had malaria or some related fever and attempted to send me home.

Normally, as any eight-year-old, I would have jumped at the thought of missing a day of school.

But the very idea of re-donning my extensive wardrobe outweighed all else and I convinced her to let me stay. I mention all of this because it likely goes a long way to explaining my dislike of winter.

But it also indicates how circular life can be.

Heading out the door the other day, in the middle of this cold snap, I stopped and found myself laughing out loud.

There I was, standing ankle deep in snow, wearing longjohns, a toque, a flannel shirt, a long scarf wrapped twice around my neck, and two pairs of mittens…

And warm as toast.