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Winter Breakdown at Ben's in Lee

Nichole Dupont

LEE, Mass. — Now that we are in the throes of winter, and now that our seventh or eighth storm is moving in for Wednesday, we can no longer live in denial. It is winter in New England and there's nothing you can do about it. 

But there are a few ways to make the rest of this endless snowpile tolerable. Perhaps the most important is to break down and invest in some proper winter gear. I mean hardcore Arctic stuff. This past weekend, I came to the realization that we might be buried until April and that I had suffered enough. By suffer, I mean cold feet, cold hands, cold body, just cold, cold, cold. All of this has been cured thanks to a trip to Ben's on Main Street.

Let me begin by saying that the ladies at Ben's know why you're there. They know that you've swallowed your pride and that you're ready to take the plunge, literally, along with the temperature. In fact, when I walked into the place (with a little cajoling from my boyfriend who has been purchasing various warm accessories for me since December) the sales clerk took one look at me and shook her head.

"You need some warmer boots," she said.
 
I looked down at my unlined, treadless-bottomed Muck boots and grinned sheepishly.

"I need a lot of things," I said.

"Well, at least you have that nice Minus 33 pullover. At least somebody knows how to keep you warm, even if you don't."

My boyfriend nudged me and nodded. I wanted to punch the cocky smile right off his face.

 

Somehow this was beginning to feel like a makeover episode of Oprah.

I strolled over to the boots, where I found an impressive selection of winter wear for all shapes and sizes. Of course, I had my heart set on Sorels because that's what I always wore before I began unsuccessfully boycotting winter. Unfortunately, they did not have my size in the women's boots (my feet are gunboats compared to my relatively small frame). Before I could even feign a look of disappointment, the sales clerk set a rugged pair of brown and black Kamiks in front of me.

"They're a men's 7, they should fit," she said.

I slipped into the impressive boots and almost immediately my cold toes, which had already suffered from mild frostbite twice this winter, were toasty. I laced up the boots and walked to the counter.

"I'm not taking these off," I said.

"I know, honey. I wouldn't take them off either."

I didn't stop at the boots, either. Tooling around the store, I noticed a rack of SmartWool socks. I was tempted to get the girly striped ones but pride prevented me and I purchased a pair of brown knee-highs. Again, one of the best investments I've ever made. Right up there with the boots, the Minus 33 pullover, and my cowboy hat with ear flaps.

It has been three days since the purchase of the boots. So far, I've only taken them off to shower and sleep. Even when my mother demanded that I take them off to go in her house I blatantly refused.

"No way, not until April," I said.

I am making another trip to Ben's this week, in anticipation of the "big storm." This time I will be purchasing a Stormy Kromer, red and black plaid, and maybe, just maybe, one more pair of SmartWools, the girly kind. Who knows, I may even get myself some snowpants.

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