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Battling the cold

Angel Warner Genevwas refurbishing interior her home when she decided take break outdoors Wednesday.  'I love cold weather look

Angel Warner of Geneva was refurbishing the interior of her home when she decided to take a break outdoors on Wednesday. "I love the cold weather and look for opportunities to be outdoors," Warner said. | Linda Girardi~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 14, 2014 12:31PM

While the Fox Valley idles in frigid wintery weather, people were out bundled head to toe with scarves across their faces to deal with the cold.

On Wednesday, a Geneva Park District maintenance crew was working a firemen’s hose to finish one of three rinks for ice-hockey players and figure skaters to enjoy in Wheeler Park.

“Mostly now we are dealing with smoothing the surface after the recent snow,” Enrique Macias said.

When all is done there will be three ice ponds in the south end of the park, but in the meantime it was taking patience and a few layers of clothing to deal with the brutal cold.

“After a while you get used to it, but you do need to wear lots of layers,” Jason Waters said.

Angel Warner was refurbishing the interior of her 1925 Dutch Colonial style home, reminiscent of a winter New England postcard scene, at the corner of Franklin and Fourth streets in downtown Geneva, when she decided to shovel the snow.

“I love the cold weather and look for opportunities to be outdoors,” Warner said. “It feels brisk and exhilarating.”

At one of the outlooks on the William J. Donovan Bridge in downtown Batavia, a Batavia bulldog statue had a clenched jaw as if to withstand the north winds brushing across his brow.

Just below in the southeast corner of the bridge a happy soul was fishing from the partially frozen Fox River. Dwight Barner, of Batavia, said he was feeling the tranquility of being near the river’s edge on a cold winter’s day and the luck of catching a Muskie.

“It is one of the coldest days I have ever fished but the problem is ice forming on the pole. I’ll have to get another pole and let this one warm up in the car,” Barner said.

Barner works in the seafood department at the Fresh Market in Geneva, but was enjoying a day off with a few hours of catch and release. The water was rushing along the sharp edges of ice along the shoreline, so the fisherman had to be mindful not to get his lure snagged on the ice.

“I would probably have to break my line, the ice is strong,” he said. “Somebody already left their tracks here. I was fishing in Montgomery earlier in the day, it has actually warmed up.”

Hannah Cartozian, of Batavia, had her face wrapped in a turquoise knit scarf that matched her hat while walking her dog on North River Street in downtown Batavia. Her schnauzer mix, Max, was ready for the cold winter day in his coat and canine booties.

“Max hates the boots, but he also does not like the salt on the pads of his paws,” Cartozian said. “I was dropping mail off in the drop-off box and it’s a good excuse to walk the dog. It’s supposed to get colder, so we may as well go out now.”

For people yearning for a tropical vacation about now, one of the best places for a reprieve from the nippy weather is a greenhouse where it averages 70 to 75 degrees. At Schaefer Greenhouses in Montgomery there is a treasure trove of red, burgundy, pink and white poinsettias to warm the soul on a cold winter’s day.

Brett Schaefer said they grow about 40,000 poinsettias plants in about 250,000 square feet of greenhouses for the holidays.

“It does get challenging to manage the greenhouses in the cold, the boilers will be running,” said Schaefer, whose great-grandfather started the business in 1927.

“A lot of people come in to enjoy the sunshine on a dreary winter day. On a sunny day it can be in the single digits outside, but it is nice and toasty, almost a tropical feel in the greenhouse,” Schaefer said.

Jill Rees, of Yorkville, stepped into the Village Grind Coffee and Tea Co. on Main Street in Oswego to take a break from the cold.

“With only two weeks left to Christmas, I don’t care if there was a blizzard. I would be out shopping. Besides, I like to bring out the winter sweaters and big coats. In other years it has been so warm,” Rees said.

“I can handle the cold with snow, it makes it pretty outside,” said Rhonda Johnson of Sandwich, who also stopped in for a cup of coffee.

T.T. Nelson, of Yorkville, said he worked as a freight train conductor for 27 years.

“We used to work 17-hour days in all kinds of weather,” he said. “After a while you don’t even think about the cold.”

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