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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

Snow Bored

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia may be over, but here in New Jersey, we’ve been reluctantly participating in our own version of the winter Olympics. There were no try-outs, no pre-qualifying events and no snazzy uniforms. If you live here, you’re automatically recruited for our team.

Mother Nature and Old Man Winter are having a custody battle over the Northeast. We’ve had more than double our average snowfall and the Polar Vortex has dipped into our area for extended visits bringing arctic air. The snow that has fallen can’t melt.  It’s like an unpleasant houseguest that just won’t leave.

I tried making a voodoo snowman to ward off any more snow. Ironically, the following morning, he was covered in a few inches of fresh new snow.

I tried making a voodoo snowman to ward off any more snow. Ironically, the following morning, he was covered in a few inches of fresh new snow.

In an effort to suppress the mounting snow rage and to entertain myself while trapped indoors, I’ve considered all the inconveniences the snow has brought and turned them into Olympic events.

Speed Scraping– When snow has piled up on the car, it’s important to scrape all of it off before driving.  Since we’ve had sub-freezing temperatures and wind chills that would make a polar bear put a coat on, it’s essential to scrape the car as fast as possible. Not only is the speed of scraping the car vital, but so too is the timing of the event. Waiting too long means the car will be encased in a thick coating of impenetrable ice. There is no medal for this event, but individuals with advanced skills avoid hypothermia and frostbite.

The Snow Toss – After 57 inches of snowfall this winter, finding a place to put it all has become a dilemma. The frozen mounds on the sides of our driveway and curb are almost over the top of my 59 inch body. As additional snow accumulates, we are forced to participate in this tandem event. One teammate must push the snow to the side of the driveway with the shovel then the other teammate heaves the snow onto the top of the massive piles. When that becomes too difficult, the heavy shovel full of snow must be taken for a walk down the street to find a smaller pile.To cheer each other on while working, we chant our team motto: we put the shove in shovel.The winners of this event get jumbo sized bottles of Advil and gift certificates for massages.

The Slush Jump – On those rare occasions when there was melting, the snow caused enormous puddles of slush. Being a successful jumper requires athleticism, balance and appropriate attire. Without waterproof boots, we would only be able to make it through the first round. There are no points awarded for style or technique, but to be a champion, we’ll need to fearlessly leap over mushy puddles of varying sizes and stick the landing. There is no medal, but the winner of this event gets to walk away with dry pants.

Skeleton-In the real Olympics, participants in this event get a running start before flopping headfirst onto a sled that hurtles down a track of ice at 80 miles per hour. In our Olympics, we’re more rugged. We walk on patches of ice without the aid of spiked shoes, sleds or the protection of a helmet. If we fall hard enough, we’ll have the opportunity to see our skeletons on the x-rays they take in the emergency room.  The winner of this event leaves the doctor’s office without any broken bones.

The Downhill Mailbox Combined – Our driveway has a bit of a slope and when it’s covered in ice, the mundane task of retrieving the mail becomes a hazardous undertaking. In this multistep event, we carefully slide down the driveway to reach the mailbox. Once we make it to the mailbox without falling,we must carefully extract the mail without dropping any of it into the snow. With each successive storm, the pile of snow dumped in front of our mailbox by the plow has gotten wider adding to the degree of difficulty.  I am now no longer able to participate in this event without the assistance of performance enhancing barbecue tongs which I need to use to extend my reach. The winner of this event manages to collect all the mail and return to the house without winding up inadvertently participating in the Skeleton event described above.

Great care must be taken when walking under these  frozen hazards.

Great care must be taken when walking under these frozen hazards.

Icicle Dancing – This event requires all the agility and elegance of Olympic ice dancing without the music, fancy costumes and judges. With dagger-like ice stalactites dangling from gutters, it is important to have impeccable timing when entering and exiting our home. During the day, we must precisely time our moves to avoid getting a droplet of icy, cold water running down our backs. At night, when the icicles refreeze, it is important to walk without disturbing them lest they fall and impale us.  If we make it into the house without a concussion caused by falling ice, we’re winners.

Pothole Slalom –Anyone driving a car in this part of the country  is forced to participate in this event. Each day the driver must slalom through pothole pocked roadways. The goal is to make it to your destination without dropping into a pothole the size of the Grand Canyon, bending the rims of your tires or cracking your windshield. Slalom skiing in the Olympics allows only one skier to take to the course at a time. Not so with the pothole slalom, the entire field of competition participates at the same time adding to the challenge. Not only do we need to avoid potholes, but we need to avoid hitting fellow motorists when swerving to avoid those asphalt obstacles. In case you think that frequent runs on the course will breed familiarity and give a driver an advantage, there are changes to the course on a daily basis. New craters festoon the course and familiar ones grow exponentially larger. Darkness, sun glare and rain also affect the course making it virtually impossible to accurately judge the depth and width of the gaping holes. There is no prize money or luxury vehicle awarded for this event, but the winner gets to keep her own money and drive off in her own car with four fully inflated tires and unbent rims.

Curling –During this indoor Olympic event players shove a large granite stone down a track of ice. Teammates use modified mops to sweep in front of the stone speeding its journey to the target at the other end. Just like the real Olympics, our curling event takes place indoors. It involves us sweeping up the bits of salt we track into the house on our boots then curling up on the couch. The winner of this event gets a purring cat on their lap.

I’m hoping that spring will come soon and be the closing ceremony to these endless Winter Olympics. Until then, I’m forced to sit inside my house and be snow bored.

Why should almost 2 feet of snow pack prevent Oregano from enjoying the courtyard.

Why should almost 2 feet of snow pack prevent Oregano from enjoying the courtyard?

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