Winter has settled in early once again, and with a vengeance at that.
I won’t try to sugarcoat my thoughts on this. I hate winter. I shiver and shudder at the mere thought of it. The older I get the more I abhor it.
My inclination is to make this the first of a 17-part series about the horrors of winter. Actually, I am probably being optimistic in thinking I could cram my thoughts into that limited number of columns. Seventeen was my chosen number because I initially – and naively – thought that timeframe would get me through the season. After looking at the calendar, though, I realized 17 weeks barely gets us to March, with many weeks of the cold gray of actual calendar winter and its horrid aftermath still ahead.
So why, you may ask, do I hate winter so much?
Just a few days ago my apprehension for the season was aroused from hibernation when I first donned my winter coat to drive into town. The bulk of the coat made it difficult to get settled in behind the wheel, and the seat belt kept catching on the coat’s fabric. I took a deep breath to chase away the evil thoughts as I contemplated the months of this discomfort yet to come, then took another deep breath as I realized this is my light winter coat, not the heavy one the frigid winds soon will demand.
A third deep breath came when I realized that I soon will have to add heavy gloves to the mix, so I can fumble with my keys while I force my way into the seat, and struggle more with the seat belt latch as I force the belt over the thick winter layers.
As if that is not bad enough, perhaps worst of all is winter’s lack of sunshine.
For the next few months the sun will set before suppertime. This is less of a factor now that I have retired from the Times and I am self employed, but darkness still leaves me trapped inside for a good share of my waking hours.
It really is a misnomer to call dusk sundown, because for weeks at a time we will not see the sun. It would be more accurate to call it the onset of increased darkness.
Diane says I am solar powered, and I have to agree. I thrive on the sunshine, and losing the sun for such an extended time is extremely depressing. I keep saying I need to invest in a sunlight lamp, and this year I think I actually will follow through.
One thing I can soon look forward to is the proliferation of Christmas light displays, which help lift my spirits. I see these as a shining beacon in the long night, and I very much enjoy them and miss the brightness when the New Year comes.
Another torment of winter is the bitter cold. I don’t mind cold that you can bundle up against and remain comfortable for an extended period, but I cringe when I think about the bitter winds that cut to the bone, inflicting intense pain on any exposed skin and even your eyeballs as soon as you step outdoors. It seems our recent winters bring more of this than I recall from the past.
Plowing or shoveling snow is one more tortuous aspect of winter. It is difficult tedium, often physically painful in the bitter frigid winds, and in the overall scheme of things is totally wasted time. If you just wait, the snow will eventually melt and go away on its own.
People have pointed out that I can always pay someone else to remove the snow, and I will note I sometimes have done this if the snow is too deep or our snowblower or garden tractor malfunction. But I dislike being captive in my own house until the snowplow operator arrives, and I also hate spending money when I can do it myself, as much as I deplore it.
So typically I bite the bullet, fire up the garden tractor or snowblower and take matters into my own frozen, mitten-covered hands.
At this stage of my life there is one positive here. Since I am rarely on someone else’s schedule in the winter I don’t typically have to battle the snow well before dawn. It is easier to tackle in the daylight, even our typical dim, subdued cloud-darkened light.
Some folks have suggested that I spend winters in a warmer climate. But that doesn’t really appeal to me – my roots and my family are here and those are key parts of my life. I won’t way that a shorter getaway to a warmer climate would be out of order, though.
It may surprise some of you based on the topic of this column, but I tend to be a generally happy person. I would say I am mostly satisfied as well, and I try not to dwell on the frozen tundra outside, but I have to battle to remain positive as the oppressive frigid darkness surrounds me.
I will note here that if you love winter, good for you. Even I enjoy certain aspects of it. For example, I find few things more beautiful than a fresh snowfall under a rare winter blue sky, especially when viewed from inside my warm home. Once I have battled the snow demon to escape from my drive, I find a walk through the woods in the undisturbed snow to be incredibly refreshing.
So when the fierce north winds forecast for next week whistle past my window I will take a deep breath, pray for some sun and try to be positive. Thanks to the wonders of the human mind I can close my eyes, and at least for a little while I can ignore the frigid blast and dream of sitting in our backyard swing, listen to the birds sing, watch the butterflies flit around the bushes and feel the warm sun on my face.
Don Allison is an author, columnist and the retired editor of The Bryan Times.