Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Dark Months

I have been reminded, this week, what really bothers me about the cold weather months.

Yes, it's true that I don't much like being cold, and that I don't like having to put on enough layers to look like a linebacker every time I want to go outside. Especially because both of those make it hard to do basic tasks, like getting my keys out of my pocket, or walking down the street without looking like a penguin pensioner.

But I think that the real reason I don't like the dark, cold months is that it is so much harder to get together with people in this part of the world.

We all - or at least most of us - have to rely on automotive transport to get around, which means that our travel is dependent upon the weather. Massive snow - or, worse, ice - means that we can't get out, and if we are out, it means that getting home can be treacherous. So, frequently, if the forecast is bad, the choice to stay home is good.

Even if the weather is good, though, there is something about going outside when it is pitch dark out, and the windchill is in the single digits - or below zero (yes, if you live in places like Minneapolis it is possible to have a day of good weather even when the temperature is below zero). I'm sure there was a time in my life when I had no problem doing that, but these days it just seems ridiculous to come home, get all settled in and cozy, and then have to get re-bundled up to go out and be cold again.

I think that's why this month's weather is such a bummer. Usually, we get to gradually ease into the cold. Most years, we get to readjust to the crappy road conditions, and slowly add on more layers of clothing. We can gradually pare down our social events, so that we keep ourselves active, but also get used to a little extra hibernation.

What we have to go through to get somewhere on Thanksgiving is usually more food-related than it is weather-related (though there have been plenty of years with snowy Thanksgivings), so we can be pretty certain we'll go.

Then, by the time Christmas and New Year's roll around, we're pretty used to it all, and the over-the-river-and-through-the-woods-ing that we do is less scary, but is also more heavily planned. There's more travel-work involved, on top of everything else. Which probably adds to the extra cocooning that happens in January and February as the days take their time getting longer.

This year, though, we got tossed into the deep end, where we're expected to sink or swim. No easing in. No psyching ourselves up for it. Just flat-out winter smack-dab in the middle of fall.

Suddenly all of the events on the calendar look daunting. Will it be too icy to drive home if we stay late on Thanksgiving? How long will it take to get there if the snow starts blowing around and we have blizzard-like conditions? If parking is difficult, how many layers should I wear - all of which I'll have to take off when I arrive? And there's been no chance to get ready for the isolation and the angst.

Yes, winter has its moments - and there are days when I really love what it's like on those cold, sunny days when everything just kind of shimmers in the light. Or the nights when the moon makes the world seem irridescent. In the cold, harsh darkness of winter isolation, though, sometimes it's hard to remember that.

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