Monday, February 9, 2009
Feeling the wrong kind of frisky
I popped out of bed this morning and saw a forecast that included five days of high temperatures in the 40s, 50s and the low 60s.
That means I’ve triumphed over another western Pennsylvania winter. Stick a fork in it. This one’s over. Sure, more biting weather may storm in, but it won’t endure. The most miserable season is behind and the loveliest one beckons.
This man-sized winter was a worthy foe. It included heavier than usual snowfalls, myriad school delays and a bitter stretch of subzero temperatures that threatened to turn my blood to the consistency of Slurpee sludge.
So now it’s time for a reckoning, a detailing of all there is to love and to loathe from the season when Mother Nature lays down and dies.
Wanna guess which list will be longer?
• Love -- Cuddling in front of the fireplace. There is no summer equivalent to the feeling of going from one extreme to the other like there is in going from an extended time freezing outside to coming in to loved ones and hot chocolate in front of cozy fire.
• Love -- Mouth-shagging snow flakes while waiting for the school bus with our tiny gigglers.
• Love -- Watching the morning news after a big snow fall and seeing them scroll through the school delays until finally-- yeah! -- Greater Latrobe is closed! Sure, I know it doesn’t apply to the parents who work, but out of euphoric kinship with the students I always, what the hell, take the day off, too.
• Love -- The onset of spring makes me feel like a wrongly convicted man who’s just been paroled. Every breath, scent and sight is more vivid and wonderful.
Now the flip side . . .
• Loathe -- Arresting myself. At any given time in winter, I could be wearing garments that include 10 pockets (four outer coat, two inner jacket, four pants). I’m a man of routine. I keep my wallet and my car keys in the same place throughout the year. But in winter, the pocket sprawl means my essentials become nomadic and I lose track of their whereabouts. I’ll stand there and pat myself down like I’m doing some kind of Arctic macarena. Whenever I go into the whole frisky routine, I always feel like reading myself my Miranda Rights.
• Loathe -- The freakish weather phenomenon that means no matter what direction I sweep fresh inches of snow from the windshield, the sum of it blows back and deposits itself on the one inch of exposed skin on the back of my neck. It doesn’t matter how I alter my position, my sweep or the direction of the wind. It never fails to avalanche onto the exposed skin. It’s fascinating and if a cheerful meteorologist ever tries to explain it to me, I’ll strangle him on the spot.
• Loathe -- Migratory accessories. I have about three coats depending on the weather’s severity, but I only have two sets of gloves. I’m always having to do a mental check on which gloves I need for the conditions and am always worried that I’ve either lost some gloves or left them behind.
• Loathe -- Taking inventory of all my stuff. The other day I took the baby on a long shopping trip to the grocery store. I dropped her off at the store nursery and doggedly tore into the long list. When I finished, I had to run through another mental checklist to make sure I had all my winter gear. Hat, gloves, scarf, etc. When I’d satisfied myself it was all there, I began pushing the cart out to the parking lot and had the bags all packed before I realized I’d left the kid behind in the store’s care center. But I did have the gloves.
• Loathe -- Treacherous walking conditions. I love to stroll, but winter conditions restrict that soul-restoring activity. Worse, thoughtless property owners make it dangerous. I took a nasty spill three weeks ago that still has my left wrist aching, all because some jerk was too lazy to bother shoveling the snow. The only reason I haven’t contacted a lawyer is because it happened in my very own driveway and I know the lazy homeowner isn’t worth suing.