Friday, February 18, 2011

Winter in Review

 I did something I haven't done in months yesterday. I opened a window in my apartment. It's nearing 65 degree temperatures here (briefly, I'm sure) and so we're getting a little winter reprieve. There are rumors of snow next week, but I'm ignoring them. Rumors, by the way, is what I now use to refer to "weather reports," which are really just sort of "possibilities" pertaining to weather. Anyway, now that things are changing a bit, I am reflecting on what my first east coast winter was like and how I dealt with it as a native Californian.

It turns out I like winter. I am as surprised as anyone, and maybe it's just puppy love and I'll grow to find it awful and regret the day this ever posted, but right now I love it. I enjoyed wearing various coats. I enjoyed wearing a hat and gloves. I liked choosing scarves to match my outfits. I liked wearing boots everywhere and not having to ever wear uncomfortable shoes. . I like the colors of fall and winter clothing. Nobody sees my tattoos in winter, really, so I kind of have a different winter personality as a result of the normalcy I apparently present to the world when I have my hands and arms covered. People look me in the eye and stuff. I really appreciated the beauty of snow and the soft, silent way it falls.

Every kind of storm I've prepared for has been loud and chaotic, but a snow storm is so quiet. I got to experience thundersnow, which is thunder with no accompanying sounds of rain! So eerie! I enjoyed not sweating ever, even if I had to walk the mile and a half to work because the buses shut down. These joys were only possible because I don't have to shovel a walk or drive a car. Both of these things would change my outlook considerably.

There are things I didn't like about winter. Like I said at the beginning, it's weird to never open your windows and get fresh air. My apartment has wall unit heaters. One in the bedroom that didn't work, so we had to cover it (it let in cold air), and one in the living room which has been threatening to die for months. We had our own little oil heater that we rolled around the bedroom, and had to buy another floor heater for the living room. It helped to do laundry, as the dryer seemed to warm the place up. Being cold inside your house is just sad. Luckily our little dog Radley allowed us to stay warm at night, though there were a few nights when I was so cold I was unable to sleep, even with him tucked behind my legs. I feel like this is more of an "I hate my apartment" thing than a winter thing, though.

I didn't like the melting of the snow, and the resulting grody slush puddles. Slush puddles gather right at important crosswalk locations, and unless you wear galoshes, you find yourself doing a fair bit of jumping and hoping you won't slip on an icy patch. Slippery ice is also a bummer, but (knock on wood) I haven't fallen once. There was a bunch of black ice around our building a few weeks ago too, and I learned it is extra slippery. It looks like a puddle of polyurethane, and is the slipperiest surface ever. I haven't driven once this winter, but M. has had to a few times and found it difficult to park. Since most streets in the city are plowed, there are huge banks of snow piled up in prime parking locations. In between cars are mounds of snow as well, so parallel parking is crazier than usual. Driving over snow sounds crunchy, like you did something very wrong, and your chances of sliding into bumpers is pretty high.

I found that being cold is your own fault, a result of poor planning. I walk home from work sometimes and on several occasions I have come home with frozen thighs because I didn't think to wear tights under my work pants. I have an amazing winter puffer coat that goes down to about a few inches below the waistline, so between that and where my boots meet my knees, I was freezing! I figured walking would make me warmer, and I rationalized that, ahem, ample thighs are a natural insulator, but not so. I was so cold one day that I came right home and went immediately to the bathroom. For some reason, I thought I may have peed my pants. I spent about a half-mile repeating "WTF, I peed my effing pants" in my mind. Why did I think this? Well, because my pelvic region and my thighs were so cold that they were kind of numb, and when I felt the least bit of warmth returning, I assumed it was pee. I started wearing tights and taking the bus.

Once, M and I met some friends for dinner in Fishtown and had to wait for the trolley at night on a Friday We waited about forty five minutes in 19 degree weather (no cabs came by). We were wearing cold weather stuff, but 19 degrees is no joke. You need full ski outfits and face masks if you're just going to hang out in the night air like that. We got home at around 10:30, after walking a few blocks from where the trolley let us off. By the time we got home, we had chattering teeth and immediately made hot chocolates. Friday night, 10:45pm, no work the next day, and after one hot chocolate I had to say "I think I'm ready for bed." Cold. It's a real killjoy if you don't respect it.

All in all, I'm glad to live with winters. I think it will make me appreciate the spring time all the more. I can't wait to see the flowers bloom and the trees get full. I am already hearing more birds than before.  

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