Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Best Thing About Winter

... is that it ends.


This could have been the shortest nomination ever, but I am feeling wordy as I sit here, on February 16, 2008 (that date is there for you people who go back and read this months -- nay, years -- from now) as I sit here, on February 16 and look outside at the snow and the cold and think about the promise of the snow and the cold. (And if you are reading this, person in the future, I hope that you are doing so on a warm day. Look outside. Is it sunny? If so, think back in time to me, sitting here typing this and looking at feet and feet of snow.)

I had to run an errand today. I had to pick up Oldest's TV from the repair shop. As we brought it outside, the repairman, in a t-shirt, said "It's not so bad today," and I agreed that it was not, in fact, so bad.

It was 9 degrees.

Such is life in Wisconsin. Life in Wisconsin means that you don't think it's that bad when it's 9 degrees. In fact, you wear t-shirts at that temperature.

I continually wonder, all winter and every winter, how I ended up here? I don't mean in a literal sense: I was born here, and went to school here until I was 18, and then went to college here because it was cheaper to go in-state, and chose my law school the same way (it was a good law school, the UW Law School. It was ranked 43rd when I applied. It was ranked, I believe, 60th when I left. But I don't take all the blame.) Then, if you graduate from a Wisconsin law school, you get to practice law in Wisconsin without taking a bar exam...

... that's right, Wisconsin is home to a bunch of untested home-grown lawyers...

... so I stayed here and now I've got a family and all these cats, so it looks like it's cold for me for the rest of my life. Or at least until I get rich enough to move somewhere without having to look for a job there because I don't want all the stress of moving combined with all the stress of having to look for a job and if I was rich, there would be no stress of either sort, so I could convince Sweetie to let me move. Until then, though, until you readers make me rich, I am stuck with winter, and I hate it.

I mean how did I end up here, a person who hates the cold living in what might as well be the Arctic circle? Maybe I am in the Arctic circle.

I didn't used to hate winter. When I was a kid I didn't mind winter. We had snowball fights and built snow forts and used them to throw snowballs at cars (okay, we used our arms to throw the snowballs. We used our forts to hide from the cars when the drivers stopped because they objected to having snowballs thrown at their cars.) We played ice hockey on the swamp and I cross-country skied as a teenager, and we went sledding and otherwise had a fine time in the winter, as fine as we did in the summer.

And then it ended. My love, or like, of winter, ended. Somewhere along the way, I realized this about winter:

It's #$*$#($&%@! cold!

Cold in a way that I no longer can tolerate. From October 1 to May 1, I freeze to death. I can't get warm enough (until I start sweating) to do anything, and I have to lug around that big coat and gloves and a hat. And my feet get wet. And our driveway has sloped sides and so the more snow we get the harder it is to get it off the driveway because you can't throw the snow up the edge anymore and you just try to heave it out of the way and it slides back down, so the driveway gets narrower and narrower-- it's only about 6' wide now. Any more winter and I won't be able to leave the house.

Why should I leave the house, anyway? I don't ski anymore. I don't ice skate (and if I did, there are indoor rinks available, even in Wisconsin. If they can play hockey in Texas, I don't need winter to ice skate). I don't even sled, which I might do except that the kids are all the wrong ages to sled and besides, I've got a bad back now.

I run into people, now and then, who try to defend winter, and they try to give me things that I could do, but the problem is that all of those things require going outside, and if they didn't then I wouldn't have to suffer through winter to do them. Anything I can do in winter means one of two things. I can get cold and then get warm, by going outside and then back inside to do whatever it is I'm going to do. What's the point of that? Or, I can get cold and then get colder, by going outside and staying there. And there's no point to that.

Those people, the Freeze Meisters, keep trying, and they always pull the same final argument out, too: What about Christmas? they ask. Wouldn't you miss snow on Christmas?


No, I most definitely would not.

Remember that scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when Clark looks outside and envisions his swimming pool, all sunny and warm and "Mele Kalikimaka" plays?

Okay, there's something kind of sad, I agree, about basing your life on Clark Griswold's fantasies, but I'm going to do it anyway:

"Mele Kalikimaka" would be my motto. I can't imagine anything better than being warm on Christmas and wearing shorts and a t-shirt and sitting out on my deck and humming Christmas carols. If I want to see snow on Christmas, I'll watch re-runs of the "very special Christmas" episodes of 80's sitcoms. And when I reach that point, I'll change this nomination from "The Best Thing About Winter... is that it ends" to The Best Thing About Winter Is That I Escaped It.

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