October 13, 2006

J'arrive!

Thus Spake the Quebecan Cold Front.

The fall weather of the past week has been lovely; light jacket, gloves and hat in the morning, sweater in the afternoon, rainy but not too cold. All with the timely leaves falling and customary pumpkin sales, apples lining the road and cornstalks lashed to lamposts. The smell of newly-opened flues and maple leaves bleeding onto the sidewalks, with just a hint of mold. And, of course, the Tigers are two games up on the As (which does not have an apostrophe, guys), and are on their way home for the next two. Lovely. Nay, perfect.

So I don’t know if it was just complacency or subconscious denial or that allowed me to disregard today’s forecasted 31 degrees and light snow. You see the numbers, but they don’t really register as information until they impact your senses; ‘overnight frost’, for example, are just words until you are chipping ice off your car windows, wet hair cryogenically crisping, all the better to melt in your hat later, like about when the bruise starts to show from repeatedly body-checking the driver’s side door in an attempt to unstick it. Then it’s real. Then it means something. And what it means is that the unrelenting evil of our Canadian-hand-me-down winter is once again upon us.

And yes, as I remarked recently, I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. What I didn’t expect was for the temperature to drop twenty degrees between Wednesday and Thursday, because if I had taken a modicum of Yahoo weather’s advice I would have, at the very least, upgraded jackets. I was aware weeks ago that my skirts had done all of their 2006 flirting, and the time was nigh for actual winter gear change; alas, ‘nigh’ became ‘now’ at about 8:05 this morning, when the wind was no longer affectionately nipping, or even biting, but downright monching its way through the more threadbare patches of my coat. Ditto my hat, which, while a steal at six bucks, seems to hit the usefulness wall somewhere around the melting point. So tonight, I need to make a stop at the mall (in the sleet! Fun!) for a knitted cap, some thicker-yet-cruelty-free gloves, and perhaps even a pair or seven of legwarmers. Maybe I’ll do a run on anachronistic winterwear, and pick up a muff, bonnet, bloomers and gartered socks while I’m at it. I realize it’s a long way to go to procure all those (like, 1910), but I bet they’d throw in some free coals and a bedwarmer. Or a child-laborer. Or smallpox. Something.

But the cold makes me digress from my not-so-shocking point: I hate winter. I’m a small woman, a bony woman, an anemic woman. I hate that I don’t have the requisite self-esteem to gain some insulating ‘winter weight.’ I hate that adequate outer-body covering in the Northeast is not actually sold in the Northeast, because it would be made of goosedown, blubber, sharkskin, bioluminescent agents and any other asset that has aided natural selection. I hate that there is no synthetic equivalent of the same. I hate that anytime I need to leave the house, I have to get kitted out in multiple sweaters, gloves, hat, scarf (with an option to plural), long pants tucked into boots to guard against snowdrift suicide runs (unsuccessfully, leaving my socks chafingly wet for six hours of the workday), the only part of my turtle-like body the tiny eyespace between brim and collar, squintily peeping straight ahead, sacrificing peripheral vision to the wind. I hate the cold. I hate the cold some more. I hate cleaning snow off my car. I hate that I have to allow extra time for all of these things, and I expecially hate that I have to do it all twenty minutes after waking up, the part of the day I’m at my worst, all without the benefit of sunlight. Oh, and I hate Daylight Savings Time (or the earth’s axis, or whatever phenomenon dictates that sunlight lasts exactly from the time that I walk into work to five minutes before I walk out).

And, of course, snow. I don’t like snow. I don’t like the way it lies, both literally and figuratively—on my car, and with its ingratiating notions that it is the symbol of Christmas and happiness and piping brown pies and warm feeling. It’s not those things; it’s cold water. It’s an ICEE minus the syrup, a daiquiri minus the booze. It may be pretty as it falls—or even breathtaking, unblemished, in the pink light of dawn—but these things are fleeting. It accumulates. One snow is a portent of twenty, and it doesn’t wait for the first batch to melt before it dumps another. In fact, it usually freezes the first batch, creating an invisible, slippery bedrock hiding underneath that ‘beautifuI’ new snow. What doesn’t freeze is thrown aside by the shovelful into the gutter, mixes with various grime, and lies in insidious wait until an Escalade drives too close to the curb and gives me a mudslush footsoak clean up to the knees of my corduroys. I don’t mind the sting of snow in the air, I like the indescribable smell it carries, and I sing the songs about it with holiday gusto—but that’s all I find pleasant about it. I like it better in theory, the potential of snow versus the interminable reality.

As a ‘gander from birth, I have learned to live with the eccentricities of the weather patterns that blow through like tantrums. I’ve done my share of trick-or-treating in the snow. I’ve done an equal share of running for the basement with a dog under each arm at least twice a tornado season. In short, I live with the Michigan weather the same way a woman lives with a catty girlfriend; she’s temperamental, and distant, and sometimes you’ll go weeks on end without any good news. Then one day in summer, she’ll call you, and it’ll be just as fun as it ever was. You know she secretly hates you, but where else have you got to go? She’s your friend. She’s Michigan.

But I'm sure Maui needs new friends, too.

No comments: