Get our free newsletter

TUESDAY

I used to prefer cold to hot: You can always add clothes, but there are only so many you can take off. Then came last winter, my first in a house with only a rudimentary heating system. Funny how excess can lead to deprivation: Too many years of central heating and your body forgets how to warm itself. I’ve learned now: As I huddle next to a fluffy, overfed cat and a high-tech propane stove that cost more than some cars, I know I’m still coddled by modern comforts. And I chose this drafty old house. On the other hand, Gretel Ehrlich voluntarily lived in a tent in Wyoming, the glacial moraine beneath her feet a rocky reminder of the power of cold. She hiked the Andes in summer snow. She sailed the Arctic Ocean—where, she noted, “the farther north we go, the better the weather.” In The Future of Ice, Robert Frost’s fire/ice dichotomy is rendered irrelevant: Ehrlich explores the possibility that we’re becoming “deseasoned.” “A hundred years ago a Zuni predicted that at the end of the world there would be famine,” she writes. “‘It is already in our midst but we can’t see it because it’s hidden by the false bounty of the stores. At the end, our tools and technologies will rise against us.’” Try roughing it without your Gore-Tex when Ehrlich reads at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7, at Olsson’s Books & Records, 418 7th St., NW. Free. (202) 638-7610. (Pamela Murray Winters)