God! Universe! Weatherpeople! Enough of this already! Look at your calendar — it’s the end of February not the beginning of January, for heaven’s sake. Give us a break! I shouldn’t have to still wear two layers of sweaters, long johns, all the polar fleece in my house, wool scarves, my warmest mitts and two pairs of socks and boots (that haven’t been off my feet since November) just to walk the one block from my house to the convenience store on the corner. And, even with all that padding on, I’d still feel the cold sneak into my toes and fingers and, for some crazy reason, my forehead — can you get frostbite of the forehead?
Hey, just to set the record straight, I’m not a Winter Hater, I’m not, really. I am one of those rare birds who actually looks forward to the season. I think it’s because I was born so close to the darkest day of the year that I feel some kind of primal connection to the shorter days and dropping temperatures. It feels homey to me — womb like — snuggly. And, the best part, I can spend evenings hunkered down with books, wine and, of course, the remote and not feel even a teeny tiny bit guilty. In the winter, I can rightfully convince myself that it is too damn cold and dark to go out in the evening. I’m normal. My nightly perch on the sofa is not a sign of a wasted, neglected, uneventful life that it seems to be when I do the same thing in the summer.
No, winter itself is not the problem, it the bloody length of it this year. Just when you think all those polar vortexes have moved back to where they belong — whamo — winter hits again. We had been mercilessly teased a couple of days last week by temperatures that seemed downright balmy in comparison. I stripped off a layer of sweaters, dug out my lightweight-what-used-to-be-my-Washington-winter coat and perched my cocky hot-pink cap on my head. It was exhilarating — but, alas, very short-lived. It’s unfair, that’s what it is.
Even nature mocks us. If you just look out the window at the beautiful light you think, “Wow, that’s a spring light out there.” It’s softer, lasts longer and produces gorgeous-golden sunsets. And then there’s those birds chirping their little hearts out in the morning. Maybe they’re just trying to stay warm enough to last until spring. I don’t know. Even the cats have had enough. They see those little birds swooping around out there and demand that I open the door to the terrace immediately to let them out. Then, with their fiercest Great Bird Hunters Demeanour on, they put one paw on the step, stop, and then look at me like I pulled a cruel joke on them. The birds are safe.
But, and this truly was the insult to injury, the hydro bill came. Shouldn’t the electric company take pity on all of us who have lived through this winter? No, not likely. I hesitated opening the envelope, delaying the sticker shock. Then, I played my usual guessing game of How Much Will It Be? I always high-ball the number so that when it comes in lower I feel pleasantly surprised and wealthier. That did not happen this time. The amount was twice as much as any bill I have ever received from them in the past 18 years. Unfair, Unfair, Unfair.
I know this cold will eventually go away and my boots will finally be able to retire to the back of the closet and the wool scarf will feel too scratchy to wear. I will keep the faith that spring will indeed come. I went out and bought a new swimsuit to hurry it along — at least in my imagination. They tell me that there are even some positives to this. Supposedly this frigid winter will keep the biting mosquito population down to a minimum — at least at the beginning of summer — after that all bets are off. And, evidently, the plant kingdom is kicking up its little roots at the prospect of all that ground moisture thanks to the ice and snow. I guess it’s something to be thankful for. But, I must say, right here and now, that if even one of those folks who left in January for warmer climes comes back here and dares to complain about anything weather-related, I will not hold my winterized tongue!