Though this will probably come as a great surprise to my loyal readers (Hi, Mom!), I made a bit of a wisecrack the other day about the recent spell of cold weather we’ve been experiencing.
In response, someone asked me if I wouldn’t miss the changing seasons if I packed up my toys and moved to a shack on the equator, escaping the chilly winters forever while learning the traditions and culture of the gentle equator people (I know. Don’t email me. It was a joke, folks.)
Regardless, her question reminded me of a simpler time in my life — before marriage, fatherhood and Netflix — when I first moved to California. It was about a week before the Washington Redskins played the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl, and the temperature was about 65 degrees, from what I remember. At that time, I thought I had found the happiest place on earth.
There were beautiful people everywhere I turned. Everybody’s cars were sparkling clean, unencumbered by the ravages of road salt or that slushy disgusting stuff that makes it into our wheel wells every winter. And the climate was amazing. The only thing... Sorry. I got distracted. It’s just so weird to think about a Super Bowl featuring the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills. I mean, Toilet Bowl, sure, but Super Bowl? The Redskins and Bills? It’s like two slow-witted pigs waging battle on Final Jeopardy for all...
But I digress.
I loved that first winter in California, and weather was a major part of that affection. The summer came around, and that was another great part of living there. It got a bit warmer. I attended a ton of baseball games. And I made a good friend who was also from the East Coast, so we went on various explorations to enjoy all the Golden State had to offer. It was truly a great time.
However, after spending about two years there, it hit me that I missed the changing of the seasons. The leaves didn’t turn color. We never really hit my beloved “sweater weather.” And there was never a two- or three-week period where you could see the flowers all spring to life at once. Indeed, I missed the seasons.
But I feel that it’s important to note that I never mentioned that I missed standing thigh-deep in a snow drift while I moved and scraped snow and ice off my car to go to work in the morning. Nor did I mention that I missed trying to have a conversation with someone outside while we both did disgusting things to the sleeves of our coats to prevent disgusting things from rolling down our respective faces during said conversation. And I know for a fact that I never missed putting on boots, a hat, gloves and seven layers of clothing to take out the trash, then having to take them all off again as soon as I walked back in the door for fear of creating a Slip ’N Slide in the hallway when later walking in my socks.
So, yeah, I did miss the changing of the seasons, but I would have been happy with a changing of just three seasons.
Ultimately, I obviously moved back east from California after several years, but it had nothing to do with an affinity for winter. I spent one winter living in Connecticut, and I think it’s important to note that I wrote that “I spent one winter living in Connecticut.” That was a whole new level of cold for this thin-blooded soul, and I was back in milder Delmarva by the end of that spring.
Can winter be beautiful? Absolutely. Waking up in the morning after an overnight snow can steal your breath when you look out that window and see a white blanket covering everything in sight. Icicles can be aesthetic masterpieces of art, and when I look out my office window and see a heron standing on an iced-over creek, I can’t help but smile.
There are also the feel-good moments that come up in every winter storm. You know, those stories you hear about a couple young guys running around in their trucks helping people who get stuck, or those kids who shovel the driveways of their elderly neighbors because it’s the nice thing to do, or people making hot chocolate for construction workers outside their work places or homes.
As much as I enjoy those stories, they are heart-warming because the cold has put people in position where they need assistance or a helping hand. No cold, no cool stories.
I’ll take that trade any day of the week — and twice on deadline days.