Cold Snapped

As I have mentioned previously, before I moved east, one of my biggest concerns was about dealing with winter weather. I worried about it a lot. But then I moved and the first winter here was fairly mild. I learned to shovel the snow off my little patio (at the time I was living in a townhouse community, with a full maintenance staff, so they took care of the grounds). It was an inconvenience but it wasn’t a big deal.
Last year I was in my house, and the winter weather was stronger and colder but it was manageable. And since I was sick and homebound through part of January and all of February, it didn’t impact me too much, although shoveling my driveway with a 103 fever was not my idea of the greatest fun.
I have a feeling all bets are off for this winter. It’s still very early in the season but we’ve already endured a cold snap that broke 100 year old records, with the weather less than 10 degrees for more than 7 days in a row. If you had ever asked me if I could live and thrive in 10 degree weather, I would have said emphatically, no, but truth, even that isn’t as horrible as you might think. You just have to dress for it, and be smart about it. It’s not like I would volunteer to take a long walk in 5 degree weather, but you can certainly go about your general business, and we all do.
What’s difficult is when we have large storms. I got a little miffed yesterday, during a text exchange with a friend from home. I was describing the 17 inches of snow we had received the day before. I wasn’t complaining about it, but when she started waxing rhapsodic over how pretty it was and how much fun it must be, I felt frustrated and misunderstood. Granted, snow is beautiful while it’s happening. If you don’t have to go out, it can be nice and cozy, I’ll agree. But for the benefit of my west coast friends who may have never had to encounter living in harsh weather, here are a few things I have learned.
First of all, snow is messy! The first day, it’s white and beautiful and clean. After that, it starts to turn grey and gross, and the piles from the plows mount up and become increasingly dirty and depressing. They will likely be there until spring, growing dirtier and grosser each day. Additionally, the salt and sand used to make the ground less slippery weaves into your boots and makes your floors filthy. I’m a neatnik, and I am literally cleaning floors at least once a day because of all the wet, salty, silty footprints I am tracking in.
You have to suit up every time you go out. Every time. I mean, to take the trash out, pick up the paper, and let the dog out. Scarf, boots, jacket. In the beginning I was cavalier about this, but I’ve learned my lesson. I have boots and a jacket at the back door, because during storms I have to keep shoveling paths for Daisy. I have boots, gloves, scarf, and a jacket at the front door. Before entering or leaving the house, I have to do a set of contortions in my teeny mud room to either dress or undress as appropriate. It gets old.
And then there’s the whole shoveling thing. I now have a plow service, which means for storms that have more than 3 inches of snow, a nice man shows up in my driveway and plows it. Which is awesome in some ways, although in a bad winter, it could get very expensive. Still, I consider it an essential expense. But even with that help, there’s plenty of shoveling left to do. The plow pushes the snow against my garage and front door, so those both have to be shoveled out. There’s plenty of perimeter shoveling to do, to make it safe to go up and down the drive. Plus I have to keep an area clear in the back of the house, Daisy has been awesome about adjusting to the weather, but bless her, she won’t poop or pee on snow and I can’t blame her. Shoveling is hard work! I’m fairly convinced I don’t do it right, because after about 5 minutes I usually want to die, and my back definitely hasn’t acclimated to it, oh how it aches. But it has to be done.
All of this isn’t meant to be an endless complaining lament. It is what it is, and it’s still a beautiful place to live. But all of these things are still new and novel to me, and I thought it might possibly be of interest to my fellow west coasters to learn a little more about what it’s actually like. Now when you see the news of bad weather on the east, and think how pretty it all looks, you’ll also have a bit more understanding of what the day to day is actually like. And then hopefully, you’ll go stand outside in the sunshine and be happy and grateful for what you have.
The end, for now

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2 responses

  1. Another thoughtful and beautifully written piece, Kathi.

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