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I Can’t Bear Winter

I Can’t Bear Winter

We are smack dab in the middle of another northeast winter regardless of what the prognosticating rodent may say on Groundhog Day. I know this next statement will draw the ire of cryophiles so I’m just going to come out and say it. I hate winter! It is a season that I must endure so that I can be rewarded with the flowers and sunshine of spring. I like to think of it as Mother Nature sending me a bouquet for surviving hibernal hell. I am not a casual hater of all things winter. My dislike of winter has risen to the clinical level. Ten years ago I was diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder. I can actually get a doctor’s note excusing me from winter.

Every year I make a valiant attempt to embrace the season, but the early darkness of winter’s shortened days makes me want to crawl into bed by 5:30 pm. Even the the joy of snow days, snuggly pajamas and hot cups of tea have lost their appeal. I can appreciate the beauty of winter: the hush that comes after a storm when there is a blanket of snow covering everything and the sculptural look of the trees without their leaves. However, that snow quickly becomes dirty and makes driving hazardous and the sculptural trees are perpetually set against a dreary background. I miss the variety of color in nature. I’m tired of the gray, brown and white palette that engulfs me for at least 3 months.

After much contemplation, I have come to the conclusion that I would prefer to be a bear. Other than the destruction of their habitat and the ongoing concern of hunters, there aren’t too many downsides to being a bear. It would eliminate a lot of problems I encounter in my daily life.

Bears are apex hunters. Nothing fucks with a bear except a human with a gun and that doesn’t always end in the human’s favor. As a woman under 5 feet tall, people often discount my presence. In stores, rude people reach over my head to pay the cashier or to get things from shelves. I know I am short, but I am not invisible. People should not be stretching over me to take a case of water off the top shelf in the supermarket. If I was a bear, I would be taller and very few people would have the ability to reach over me. Also, being a bear, people would not want to piss me off.

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Bears spend their summers chowing down to gain weight for the winter. Imagine that! The goal for the season is to actually gain weight. I already possess that skill. Bears have a good excuse though; they eat to pack on the pounds to sustain them through winter. They wander around snacking not worrying about calories – the more the better. Since bears don’t wear clothes, there is no need to worry about the constant fluctuation in weight. Bears are never upset because their fur coats are feeling a bit restrictive and uncomfortable. As the weather turns colder and the hours of daylight dwindle, the bears finish up their gorging and head inside to their dens.

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I’ve been eating all summer. Does this fur coat make me look fat?

This brings me to the most alluring aspect of being a bear… hibernation. The thought of totally avoiding winter is immensely appealing to me. If I was a bear, I could curl up in my house and sleep through the darkest, coldest days. I realize that as a bear I wouldn’t have my heated mattress pad or my cozy pajamas. Everything has its trade-offs. Hibernating would allow me to avoid shoveling, scraping my car windows, driving on black ice, piling on layers of clothes and the inevitable asthma attacks caused by breathing cold air. As if missing out on the misery of winter isn’t enough incentive to being a bear, they go to sleep fat and full and wake up skinny. Sure, they’re hungry and irritable when they wake up in the spring. There are many mornings when I wake up hungry and irritable and I am not any skinnier when I do. Going to sleep with a full belly, missing winter and waking up skinnier… it’s hard to see a downside.

Until I master the ability to transfigure myself, I’ll just have to find some other way to cope with winter to make it bearable. DSCF0546

Stormin’ into Town

Autumn is just beginning to make its presence known here in New Jersey. The days are getting cooler and less humid. Leaves are just beginning to show the first signs of changing color. Winter is still more than 2 months away and we haven’t even had a frost yet. Despite this, The Weather Channel has announced a change in how they will be reporting winter storms. Blizzards and other significant winter storm systems deserve the same type of personalized attention that tropical storms and hurricanes have long enjoyed. No longer will the enthusiastic meteorologists stand in front of their maps referring to a generic winter storm. These storms shall be given names.

The Weather Channel contends that naming a storm will make it easier to refer to and increases viewers’ awareness about the upcoming storm.  Perhaps giving a storm a name makes it more relatable. During major snow events in the past, storm nicknames have evolved on their own. The Northeast’s surprise October snowstorm last year was referred to as “Snowtober” and the multi-day snow dump in the winter of 2010 has been called “Snowmaggedon.”

I don’t know for sure how this list of winter storm names came to be, but I can use my imagination.  Perhaps meteorologists were bored with reporting heat waves and drought conditions this summer.  With hurricane season approaching, a creative meteorologist thought it would be fun to name winter storms, too. While sitting around in a room full of colorful radar screens, these scientists amused themselves for hours choosing names to be included on the list. Winter storms need a better image. The idea began to take hold so they decided to go public with it.

There appears to be much debate among members of the meteorological community regarding the scientific merits of naming winter storms.  I’ll leave the details of the controversy to more scholarly blogs and people who understand weather. The validity of the science behind this idea is not nearly as entertaining as the actual list of names they selected.

The list contains 26 culturally diverse names, one for each letter of the alphabet. These names will be used to refer to significant winter storms during the 2012-2013 season. I’m all for infusing fun into life, but the names they chose sound like a casting call for Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies. Some of the names aren’t even proper nouns at all. They are common nouns like yogi (people who do yoga, not Yogi Bear), Rocky (identified as a single mountain in the Rockies, not Rocky Balboa) and Q (a New York City subway line.) It seems they might have been stretching a bit to find a “name” to fit each letter of the alphabet. Choosing the names of literary characters and notable ancients seems a bit lofty for a blizzard, but what concerns me is that several of the names they chose are those of assassins, conquerors and gods. (Click here to learn what each of these names means.)

The Weather Channel’s names for 2012-2013 winter storms.

In all fairness, names are subjective. Different names evoke different feelings in different people. Some names have negative associations and may remind you of an obnoxious co-worker or a bad blind date. Other names have positive associations and call to mind a kind, elderly neighbor who brings you fresh-baked cookies. To me, most of the names on this list seem threatening. Hearing that Xerxes the blizzard is headed for my area sounds intimidating. Dealing with winter weather is odious enough without being intimidated by the name of the storm that is bearing down on you.

I think The Weather Channel missed the mark. They could have had a contest to name the winter storms. Viewers and armchair meteorologists could have shared suggestions via email, Twitter and Facebook. They could have offered those snazzy Weather Channel parkas as prizes for winning names.  Since The Weather Channel didn’t ask for my suggestions, I have taken it upon myself to create a list of storm names with more innocuous associations; names that don’t strike fear into the hearts of the people in the storm’s path.

A – Agatha

B – Bertha

C – Cecil

D – Dottie

E – Esmerelda

F – Fifi

G – Gaylord

H –  Herbert

I – Irving

J – Joan

K – Kelvin

L – Lloyd

M – Mable

N – Nelson

O – Otis

P – Poindexter

Q – Quincy

R – Roscoe

S – Stewart

T – Trixie

U – Ursula

V – Velour (if the meteorologists can choose a common noun, so can I)

W – Waldo

X – Xavier

Y – Yvonne

Z –Ziggy

Don’t you think hearing, “Dottie the blizzard is approaching your area with whiteout conditions and a foot of snow,” sounds less threatening than Zeus the blizzard?

What names would you have chosen for the list?

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