It's 12 degrees Fahrenheit outside as I write. My fingers are still defrosting. I don't need any "real feel" or "wind chill factor" to help me appreciate how cold it is. Twelve is not a lot of degrees. And what's worse? I'm getting used to it.

I have a new puppy, and I love him madly. He's a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. He's from Canada. He loves the cold. He loves the snow. I knew when I signed up that this breed requires tons and tons of exercise -- and I was absolutely fine with that. I was picturing running with him, in shorts and a T-shirt, along Clapboard Hill Road. I was picturing playing Frisbee with him by the ocean in July. I was picturing hiking with him in Trout Brook, pausing every so often for a cold drink from a fresh stream.

I wasn't picturing playing fetch with him at 7 a.m. at Compo Beach in mid-February in a foot of snow with the wind howling around the cannons and temps in the single digits.

Mostly I'm so cold I can hardly think. When I can think, I think mostly about how cold it is. Here are some of those thoughts:

A couple of weeks ago I said to my wife, "Does it seem to you this winter has been a lot colder than normal?" She thought for a second. "No, not really." Hmm. This gave me pause. Then it occurred to me that when it gets really, really cold, my wife doesn't go outside. Yeah, that might explain it. Earlier this week I saw a headline on the Internet: "Arctic blast across U.S. will make the `polar vortex' winter of 2014 look tame." That made me feel a little bit better about my observation.

In the days before it got so freaking cold, I used to actually choose what I was going to wear before going out. Not any more. Now, same thing all the time. A hoodie over my T-shirt. A fleece vest over the hoodie. A very heavy-quilted, weatherproof Carhartt jacket over all that. Then, a fleece neck gaiter. (I used to only wear a gaiter when skiing. Now it's an everyday essential -- like boxers.) Wool hat. Ski gloves. Pull the sweatshirt hood up over the wool hat. Pull the jacket hood up over the sweatshirt hood. Oh, and the Timberland snow boots. Have I mentioned that it never stops snowing?

There was also a time I didn't have to wear chains on my shoes, for God's sake! That all changed a month ago. In Vermont. I slipped on the ice while walking my dog, fell backward on my head, and got a concussion. All of a sudden, everyone I knew was telling me about Yaktrax, this stretchy contraption you strap to the bottom of your winter shoes or boots for extra traction. Just like the chains we used to put on tires, before SUVs and all-wheel-drive. Now? Wouldn't leave home without 'em.

With all the stuff I wear to go out these days, nobody recognizes me. Nor do I recognize anybody else. Yesterday I saw a guy in the dog park without a single bit of skin exposed -- not even on his face. There was not a feature you could identify him by. He could have been a terrorist. I could have been a terrorist. Good thing I recognized most of the dogs.

People from this part of the country are always saying, "I couldn't live without the seasons." In fact, I'm usually one of those people. Our youngest son goes to college in Los Angeles. Every day there it's 78 and sunny. Right now, that's sounding like a pretty good season.

Hank Herman is a Westport writer, and "The Home Team" appears every other Friday. You can keep up with him on his "Beagle Man" blog -- -- and on Twitter @BeagleManHank. He may be reached at