I remember, back before I moved to the Bay Area, that I asked a friend who was a San Francisco native if she felt lucky she lived elsewhere during the Loma Prieta quake of ’89. “Not at all,” she answered. “I felt like I missed out, to be honest. Everyone helped each other through this terrible thing together, had their war stories to share. And I was kind of on the outside.”
That’s kind of how I feel about your winter.
I know, I know, that’s easy for someone who lives in the Bay Area to say when our trees are in bloom and the temperatures are in the 70s, and you’re still getting flurries. You think it’s ridiculous to long for slushy streets and runny noses and oh-are-you-SERIOUS-another-snow-day? But remember, that stuff is in my Rochester blood.
And not just the beautiful parts of winter, the crystalline light and the frost on the window panes and the lazy afternoons spent skating on the flooded backyard rink of our next door neighbors. I mean, there are actually things I miss about the brown slush in March. The pallor that comes after four months where the only sustained sun you see is if you watch Hawaii 5-0 reruns. The sinking feeling when you realize that your April birthday party in the backyard may have to be moved inside because the lawn is still spongy from melting snow (I know that feeling PARTICULARLY well. Shout out to my fellow Taurus people.)
Why do I miss them? Because they taught me that I, and my people, were tough. We were not weather wimps. It took a whole lot more than eighteen inches of snow to shut the door to MY school, thank you very much, even if the Catholic schools down the road were closed. It’s not a fun lesson, but it’s not nothing either. I see people walking around here in sixty degree weather wearing down parkas and inside, I’ll be honest, I’m thinking “you should go someplace with REAL weather and see how you do.” I feel certain that even now I would kick the butt of any Bay Area native if we were on Survivor and it took place in say, central Michigan.
Then there is communal shoveling. When I was growing up, there were old people who lived alone on my street, and a few single moms. And the dads and brothers would shovel their own walk, but then go across the street and shovel someone else’s. (The womyn were inside baking cookies for the men, at least at my house. Which was ok by me.) That shoveling was a little piece of everyday kindness, and without the snow I’d have missed seeing it demonstrated. The closest I come to that here in California is when I drag the garbage cans up and down the driveway of the house across the street from us. Any fool could do that; it takes character and determination to shovel someone else’s driveway after you’ve burned up your arms taking care of your own.
Also: aside from the six days a year that it really buckets rain, there is very little excuse for lethargy where I live. I mean lethargy like, wake up on a Saturday, glance out the window and decide it’s a pajama day, a defrost something from the freezer day, an I’ll-get-my-exercise-moving-between-the-couch-and-the-TV day. I think humans are designed to have a few days a year of truly sloth like behavior, but when you do it in NorCal, you tend to feel so guilty about being inside on a nice day that it ruins the effect. Sometimes you just want to lie on a couch and eat junk food and not get your heart rate up, you know what I mean?
I also remember that by March, if someone in a warm climate had told me to be grateful for our hard winters, I would have taken the time to peel off my crusty mitten first before slapping them in the face, for maximum sting potential. That’s why I’m writing this from the safety of my keyboard.
But my hat’s off to you. Even if it’s still cold and snowy where you are, Daylight Savings Time is upon us. Spring is coming. You’re reading this and you survived this winter. And that’s not nothing.