It was cold outside. Very very cold. It was in fact one of those nights when the sky stretches up up up to eternity and the stars blink coldly down. There was no moon. Throughout the house the night cold pushed bitter fingers through each window as I walked past. Our two wood stoves pushed heat back and the coziness of the indoors was only exacerbated by the bitterness outside. Night chores were done, dinner was long past and I was ensconced in a comfy armchair, legs dangling over one arm, reading. But I was also aware that I had to pee. And the urge to pee was fast becoming something I could not ignore.
Until I was thirteen, this cold night air and the need to use a washroom were two utterly disconnected things, but now I was living in a century farmhouse that only had warm water running in the kitchen when the stove was well on. The bathroom was, in fact, an outhouse, and I needed to go. Cold or not, I was going to have to go outside.
Slowly and yet with a mounting sense of urgency I put on my boots, scarf, tuque, mittens, and thick down coat. I was as ready as I was going to be. I stepped outside, my chest constricting with the first inbreath of the icy night air. The house lights dropped behind me but I knew where I was going. The white outhouse gleamed in the starlight, pointing the way.
It was only when I get to the outhouse that the full awfulness of the situation became understood. Despite my urgency, I had put all my layers of clothing on. Sweater, followed by a scarf and then thick coat over all. However, what I had not remembered was the pair of overalls I was wearing under everything else. Overalls that could not be pulled down to do the necessary.
It took me a long time to get warm again once I was back in the house, even with both stoves pumping out heat. I knew that I would never again forget the lesson I had learned that night. Never ever go to the outhouse on a cold winter night with overalls under everything!!