MATERIAL GIRL: Jodie Bruton on skorts and short-short socks to warm up to winter

HOW low can you go?

People feel the cold dramatically differently depending on everything from their culture to biology and even history.

But how people weather winter or warm to the shortest days of the year is as diverse as people themselves.

The Conversation refers to Japanese pearl divers who don’t wear wetsuits for their long dives in cold waters whereas many of us struggle in the relatively warmer Indian or Pacific oceans.

Charles Darwin remarked on the extraordinary capacity of the locals to deal with the cold at the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego where the HMS Beagle docked.

Having spent a couple of years in Wellington, New Zealand, a decade ago the same could be said about Kiwis.

At my mum’s group gatherings in their spring-like summer, my peers would always note the long sleeves on both myself and my baby.

“Look! The Australians have arrived,” they’d jest.

Kiwi director Peter Jackson has long been well-known for not wearing shoes year-round.

“They're just uncomfortable,” he has been quoted as saying.

“I don't like wearing them at all. But socially you've got to wear them, on red carpets and in restaurants.”

While our Kiwi-born daughter did not inherit the footloose and shoe-free outlook, we love how she longs for the rain.

“I don’t care if it’s cold today so long as it’s raining,” she says.

Having spent her first 14 months in the Kiwi capital, she was rocked to sleep many times over to ever-present sideways rain hitting our timber terrace rental. 

Over the ditch wet weather never rained on anyone’s parade. If you didn’t go out on account of the rain, you’d never go out. When we came back to the Border it took a while to acclimatise to the fact that many of us stayed home at the first hint of rain.

Our youngest doesn’t feel the cold at all. Think Japanese pearl divers.

Raised on a diet of Disney film production Frozen, she often casually remarked: “The cold never bothered me anyway.”

She only started wearing winter pyjamas in August and has once worn tracksuit pants instead of a “skort” for school sport. She loathes layers unless they’re in cake.

Having cracked the back of winter 2017, here’s my glossary of weather alerts.

  1. High Pressure System: This condition develops early in the day when a child refuses to wear their tracksuit pants in late July because it’s still not cold enough. Mention a blizzard warning and they may say: “Fine, I’ll pack them in my school bag and put them on if it snows.”
  2. Sheep Graziers Warning: This alert is issued by parents to get kids off Minecraft pronto and on to setting the dinner table post-haste. If they complain you’re ruining their “world”, you may need to issue this warning twice or three times. 
  3. Cold Front: This condition develops when your tween’s jeans have not been washed though they were only put in the laundry the night before. Continuous washing will avoid this vicious cycle though it’s impractical.
  4. Warm Front: This condition arises when you notice civilians dressed in winter clothes as you leave your child in the school drop-off zone in a skort and short-short socks. “That lady looks like a warm hug,” I say. “She looks like she’s wearing her bed!” retorts the youngest.

Stay warm everyone.