Thursday, January 06, 2005


I just saw a fellow on TV who was ragingly enthusastic about winter. "I love snow!" he declared for the camera, as he stood on a Detroit street, bundled with enough clothing to outfit a haberdashery, hat pulled low over his forehead, scarf twined like a boa constrictor around his throat, cheeks a healthy pink glow. "Love everything about winter. Love the winter sports. And I just love this snow!"

A twinge of conscience went through me like the aftershock of an earthquake. What I do during a snowstorm and immediately afterward is Lament. It is something I am very good at doing, lamenting, and snow invariably brings out my glum, complaining, dark side. I felt guilty about this, as I listened to this gentleman sing the praises of winter. I thought perhaps I should change my atittude, take another look at the white stuff falling outside. I don my coat and step out the door.

It is, indeed, a winter wonderland. We here north of the city have escaped the full thrust of the storm, so far anyway, and a light, white cover blankets the ground. The falling flakes dance in the glow from the streetlight like flecks of flame, and the earth looks serene and restful. The air is crisp and cool and I gulp huge amounts of it into my lungs as I take in the beauty of this scene, noting the pockets of snow resting in the pine trees like rows of Christmas ribbon, and the coating of ice that sparkles on the bare limbs of the maple tree.

Within minutes, my feet are beginning to feel the effects of the cold, frozen earth. I stomp them, trying to shake away the chill, feeling in my pocket for my gloves. I locate one glove, which seems to be the number I am allocated. I can't understand it. I buy two gloves, but one of them inevitably disappears. One time, I bought two identical pairs of gloves, thinking that if I lost one of them, I'd still have the other. I ended up with two left-handed gloves. I wondered what this Winter Loving Fool would think of that!

Cold feet, icy fingers, the beauty of the evening was quickly fading. The snow was reaching proportions that made me realize it would have to be shoveled. If God had intended us to shovel, we'd have scoops instead of noses. And, speaking of noses, mine was beginning to drip. Reaching into my pocket with my gloveless hand, I found no tissue. Caught outside in the winter with a drippy nose and no tissue is a predicament indeed. A few swipes with a bare hand has to suffice.

I finally had to admit that, despite its beauty, snow is, to me, a four letter word. Snow is piles of stubborn stuff that turns icy and clings and has to be moved from one spot to the other. Snow turns to slush and fades from white to gray. Above all, snow is cold and everything around snow is apt to be just as cold or colder.

If there is anything I dislike, it is climbing into a car in midwinter. First, one has to clear off the snow and ice, hacking at the windshield like a demented soul in a fiery rage. Then, climbing into the car is like entering a tomb. The steering wheel is cold, especially when wearing only one glove, and the poor car groans like a suffering soul as you shiver along the way, waiting for the heater to throw out a blast of heat.

All sort of paraphernalia has been invented to help you enter your car more comfortably in the wintertime. There is that Remote Starter Thingy, which you can operate from your cozy kitchen as you wait for the car to warm up. And there are all those defrosters...front window, back window, mirrors. Then, too, I once had a big plastic sheet with magnets on the four corners, intended to use to cover the windshielf in a snowstorm. It didn't work half so well as parking in the garage but, you see, our garage was always full of...well, useful objects...and so it was frequently difficult, if not impossible to park there.

Winter not only affects your relationship with your car, it definitely sends its tentacles into your home, too. I know people who cover their windows with plastic sheeting. This not only keeps the heat inside, but you can't get a clear view of the outdoors until Spring. Then, too, you have that long, snakelike object that is supposed to keep the cold wind from blowing through the crack at the bottom of your door, but which usually ends up curling around your feet as you try to walk around. Doorways are always a problem in the wintertime. Rugs have to be placed to catch drips, and there are always that interesting array of boots scattered around, as well as wet mittens and sodden hats.

Pundits tell us that winter is when the earth "sleeps" and prepares itself for rebirth. That's all very well, but most of us can't sleep through the cold months, unless we are bears, and we have to continue with our daily lives. We have to carry in groceries over ice, sleet and snow. We have to collect the mail, pay bills, work, worry, stave the wolf from the door. And we have to do it bundled in heavy coats and trying not to wear a hat so the hairdo might possibly last a few hours.

Ah, yes, there is something to be said for palm trees and sandy beaches and weather that doesn't howl, roar or throw tantrums. Of course, if one lives in a place like that, those God-awful hurricanes might blow the house down like the wolf huffing at the three little pigs, but inbetween hurricanes, life would be very pleasant. No snow. No slush. No whirling, screaming wind. No blizzards. Just crowds of "snowbirds" stuffed into Senior Citizen developments, scooting about on those cute little golf carts. And no need to ever try to find your gloves.

My trouble is, I get homesick. I worry. I decide the grandchildren are wasting away without me. I miss relatives I haven't seen in months. I long for my familiar bed. I feel guilty about leaving the birds behind with no food. I miss my mundane, boring routine. Before a few weeks are out, I'm packing for home. Then I'm back with the snow again, lamenting as usual. And I swear, as I always do, that next year I'm leaving in September and not coming back until June, until every drop of snow is gone.