No, it didn’t freeze today. It’s a little hard when it’s around 60 degrees here in New Jersey. But there was one time when, as a young reporter, my pen froze.
I thought of those times Thursday when I was out with co-workers passing out fliers about Millburn Patch. My editor-in-chief asked if someone had a pen to jot down some notes, and I passed mine along. At the time it was below 30 degrees (this was before 9 a.m.), and I realized that if my pen froze I was in trouble. There was no pencil in my bag.
Years ago, I was assigned to cover the event when the Westport Downtown Merchants Association turns on its holiday lights along Main Street. It’s not a tree lighting since there’s no tree. The event is always the day before Thanksgiving in the early evening.
It’s not really an event that should be covered with a reporter, but rather just a photographer. People rather see the photos of kids with Santa than read an article about how many lights there are on Main Street that year. But there I was in the small crowd on Main Street in the cold.
Carl Leaman, who was then a selectman in Westport, was speaking, giving his holiday greetings, and that’s when it happened. My pen stopped working. It was a fairly new pen, so I knew it wasn’t out of ink. It froze. I never thought a pen could freeze until that moment.
I had to write my article mostly from memory as a result. One of my editors laughed at me, and that’s when I learned the importance of carrying a pencil during the winter. He was the one who told me to do so.
If you cover enough outside events during the winter, you learn little tricks. It doesn’t end with just the pencil. I can’t write with mittens or bulky gloves either, and that’s when I discovered what are called glittens. I never knew that’s what they were called until I read it from Craig Newmark when he posted it on Twitter.
You can put the mitten over your hand to keep it warm most of the time, but you can remove the mitten, exposing your fingers when you need to do something, like write or take a picture.
But now the weather is warming (watch is snow next week), and I’m sure soon enough I’ll put away the glittens and not need to worry about carrying a pencil for a few months.