Wiggle Your toes.
It always depends upon when you hear this phrase, really... I've heard this from caregivers, doctors, parents, friends, and from toddlers. It nearly always comes attached to some wisdom. Sometimes that wisdom is in recovery, sometimes playful, and sometimes it is merely what we tell ourselves in the hollow space of our minds, as we slog on through a cold walk, run, ride, hike, ski, or paddle. Generally this is the best time to hear these three words, underscoring that you are alive, still. You won't find any wisdom here however, so if you are ok with that... Carry on.
When you are cold through and through, and you hear it, that means you are alive, and probably having fun. When you hear it from a toddler, it may indicate playfulness. So one should not lament the words unless someone is asking you to do so, when you awaken; As in, "Can you wiggle your toes for me?" ...Under no circumstance do we hope to hear this question.
It may come as no surprise, that when you are voluntarily trying to circulate more blood to thaw your cold toes, you are doing fine. Your command over these elements perhaps well beyond the locus of your un-trained mindfulness. In films there are ninjas who can slow heart-rate and respiration to convince someone they are dead, or to conserve oxygen, or fuel. We are not that Ninja. If you feel the prickly needles like practice acupuncture in your phalanges, you are alright. If you feel the slow creep of nothing moving inward from the tips toward your arch, it may be a good time to talk to your toes. Me, I have tried to be aware of my wellbeing to the extent that I can control things like nutrition, hydration, vitamins, sleep, and the like, but try as I may, I can't seem to meditate away the cold to stave off numb fingers or toes, which to me seems rather absurd. Consider you are doing something athletic, outdoors, Snow-Shoeing through the Woods, toward your blind to shoot an animal, and your toes, get cold. Should you wiggle them? Wait!, what?, you already are wiggling them, and your vascular system is working overtime to move blood to your legs, and lactic acid burns your quadriceps, and your glutes, and your neck, back and head are drenched in sweat... So what is it with fingers & toes? Why can't they get on board with the system? What is preventing them from overheating? Why the hell then are they so cold?
It's useless actually, to coax your will into some extremity -- To try to re-shape the outcome of your reticent digits, with mindfulness. The Wiggle rarely if ever works, and now you are faced with the option to
A. March onward, is cold defiant suffrage to your toes.
B. Stop someplace, drop a boot, and rub them.
C. Wiggle your toes, as if you were that ninja.
Here the choices seem simple enough, and the outcome still appears rosy. You merely need to choose, one of these and soldier on. Of course you know that B & C make less sense, because when you wiggle your toes, no relief comes... If we are being honest with ourselves; and if you remove a boot, and your gloves to do so, you are exposing your cold digits to more cold. You could of course forget about them, and keep moving, but that doesn't seem like a proactive option, but rather like ignorance. The fact is, your toes are losing the battle for warm blood-flow, and you are pretty much fucked.
I'm happy to report, that the experts say the same; and consulting several sources for survival you will find the topic as mish-mash as this one. Don't wiggle your toes, rub them? Who knows?
What is key in your decision is how much time you have, and how far you are from a "warmer" place, or a friend with some "Hotties" Hand Warmers. You know the little packets of magic sand that you open, shake, and stick in your boots, to bring back circulation. These work!, but only if you have them, and only if your metatarsals aren't well past the point to warm up themselves. Sometimes your toes are unwilling, and warm water becomes your best bet. Look Out! however, because warming up can be far more painful than the dull numbing throb of cold toes. The slow pump of battery acid creeping through your capillaries, spiking and burning your limbs is the inevitable come-back, and it is quite unpleasant, which is why I'd have to say, you should forget about them until you know you can manage to actually do some good. A warmer place is ahead, but it's going to cost you.
What I'm happy to report is that the toe topic has been tabled, because we have at long last rounded the corner. We have escaped amputation or worse death, as we matriculate to Spring 2019. It's not only amazing that we left that Shit-tastic Polar Vortex behind, without major casualties, but that we still have our sanity, (knock wood). I'm sure the best is yet to come, but there is another side of this which needs to be addressed, and that is the slow burn. The bulb which dims so gradually, that we are not sure why we are sitting in the dark unable to read our paperback, freezing our asses off, shelling out ransom for Natural Gas. When the shift comes, around the proverbial corner, which by the way is unknowable... We are unaware that "Spring" is en route, because the shitty slog through months of slush and styro-foam-like snow, is so entrenched in our actual psyche, that we cannot literally recall a time when things didn't just suck. So... fucking tah-dah!, "Spring".
My guess is that you missed it. You could not have seen it's arrival like a predator, until it's jaws are on your throat. Spring is here, and we should rejoice, but we are so jaded, and gun-shy, that we won't believe it until the fucking icebergs are melted from the Big Lake, and you've forgotten where your gloves and hat are... Spring is Here, and we won't believe it until the easter bunny has been eaten head first, and you've swept up the last pine needle from the tree you threw out three months back. Spring is here and you will know it when you see it, but you are not sure what form it has assumed, and what it actually looks like because it's an estranged relative, or high-school friend whose name you cannot recall. When you see her, should you say hello?
Thinking of Spring, and the long thaw, it's important to bear in mind that if you are at this stage, and you're no longer wearing two pairs of socks, and long undies, and your switching to thinner gloves, You are a survivor. You have to look forward to a new phase in your constellation of outer-wear, and that is the Rain. When the rain comes we know it's spring, because it doesn't stick. We are in for a real treat, because Spring is a cold bitch, under whose rainy skirt is a spot of sunshine, which you can only catch a glimpse of if you pay her close enough attention. Break out your slicker, and rubbers, and enjoy the thaw. The cold rain will sting you with the same prickly chill of your thawing toes, but this time it will be different because you have won. No, you can't find your hat or gloves, but you have 6 months to look for them.
I am aware it's always raining someplace, and typically so in the UK, and I'm not sure if Pete was writing this to a woman, a man, or to Spring, but oh man I need a drink...
"On that dry and dusty road
The nights we spend apart alone
I need to get back home to cool, cool rain
I can't sleep but I lay and I think
The night is hot and black as ink
Oh God I need a drink of cool, cool rain."
Love Reign o'er Me by Pete Townshend performed by The Who.
Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.