I Like This New Kind Of Winter

Just like any kid growing up where mountains of snow are dumped during winter, I enjoyed the season.  My friends and I built snow forts, we went sledding down the local sledding hill, we laced up our ice skates and played hockey on the lake behind the house after school every day, and all the other outdoor fun we could shoehorn into a given day.  I used to like putting on my snowmobile suit after a fresh, deep snow and going into the woods by myself to explore the new world that was just created.  Back then winter was just as fun as summer with the only difference being the hot chocolate my mother would have waiting for me when I got back to the house.  All of those wintertime memories are still in the forefront of my mind even as I approach the age of 50.

As the years have trudged passed several things have changed my appreciation of winter.  The residuals of a traumatic accident in my 30’s leaves my knees and hips aching come the fall temperature changes.  Commuting to and from work brings its own annoying challenges as I am forced to deal with people who never seem to learn how to drive in the snow.  Maintaining the driveway while living in New England becomes almost a full-time job that demands my attention regardless of any convenient time.  The cold, the sloppiness, the damp feet during the workday, it just seems like winter is more of an annoyance these days in comparison to the youthful days of the excitement a blizzard could bring.

I grew up in the great state of Michigan and moved to the Boston area in 2000.  In Michigan you get belted from all sides with lake effect snow.  I’ve lived in the Detroit area, Michigan’s northeastern shore on Lake Huron and in Traverse City, a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan.  Lake effect snow is the norm in those areas.  If you’re into downhill skiing, you love it.  If you’re not, you hate it.  New England offers a different type of mess.  Everyone here calls it the “wintry mix”.  The ocean plays a key role in storms moving in and rotating counter-clockwise, known as the famous nor’Easter (pronounced norEastuh), soaking up moisture from the ocean, bringing it back inland and dumping it on us.  The further inland you are the more snow you get.  We can receive 20 inches of snow in Maynard, where I live, and they’ll get two inches of rain on the Cape (Cape Cod for you non-locals).  That means I usually get 20 inches of wet, heavy snow.  It’s not fun, and I’ll never pretend that it is.

Last year was worse than usual.  Every Tuesday after January first, for four weeks in a row, we had a major blizzard.  I’m talking about at least 18 inches of snow every Tuesday for four weeks.  Then you can throw in your smaller storms every few days between Tuesdays.  Roofs were collapsing everywhere, schools and businesses were being shut down because of potential structural problems, and simply stated, it was a major pain in the ass.  We ran out of places to put the snow by mid January.  Every winter I say to my wife, “Why is it that we live here?”  Last winter, I found myself asking that question every day.

You’ve heard the debates over the past decade about global warming, right?  Some people believe we’re destroying our planet and forcing the climate to change.  Others, like myself, believe the Earth is going through its regular cycle.  Regardless of what you believe, I have to tell you that I LOVE this new kind of winter we’re having this year.  Sure, it’s probably happening because of a fluke in the weather patterns or the jet stream or the troughs that control what weather goes where, but I have to tell you that this is the happiest winter I’ve had on record.  Here in New England we’ve had one snow storm and it didn’t even happen in winter – it happened a few days before Halloween!  Sure, there were still leaves on the trees and the wet snow caused all kinds of power outages from limbs coming down, but what are you going to do?  We’ve had, maybe, three inches of snow since then and here it is, February 19th!

Here’s a picture of my back yard taken on Christmas Day.  Do you see any snow?  Any ice on the river?  Nope.

No Snow, No Ice, No Winter!

All I know is I haven’t fired up the snow blower once this year.  I’ve had to scrape my windshield exactly three times before heading out to work this winter.  I’ve had two days in my commute where the roads were in any way compromised and that was because rain had fallen the night before and the morning temperature was just above freezing.

I woke up this and yesterday morning and let the dawg out at 7:30am.  I always go out with him to have a cigarette.  I was astounded to hear all kinds of birds, SPRINGTIME birds, chirping away in the trees.  A few geese flew in and landed in the river, squirrels were out, jumping from tree to tree in their canopy as if it were a new spring.  I looked out to the crabapple tree by the river and saw the same robin that never left when the air grew chilly last fall.  We always have robins in the summer, they always leave in the fall.  Not this year, as a few stayed around, seemingly knowing they didn’t have to take that fall flight.  Even the Great Blue Herron, who visits us every day on our stretch of the river, hasn’t left this year.  I took all of this in and realized how wonderful this winter has been for me.  How lucky I am to experience my absolute nemesis being defeated by either we humans or by the hand of Mother Nature herself, as if she knew how much we had been through last year and decided to give us all a break this year.

Of course, by posting this I’m probably jinxing all of North America east of the Mississippi, and we’ll experience blizzard after blizzard from now until the end of March, and we’ll still have snow on the ground in June.  And sometimes I wonder what kind of affect a winter like this will have on the coming spring and summer, but right now I can’t worry about that because I live in the present.  Today, February 19th, 2012, I am basking in 45 degree sunlight.  I have a rose bush with new growth on it, and an Iris that is coming up on one side of the house.  My snow shovels and snow blower sit in waiting, collecting dust, and each time I walk past them I have to snicker just a bit.  For the first time in forever I don’t have to ask myself why I live here.  I feel triumphant, I feel  like I’ve won, even if only for one year out of the 48 I’ve been on this planet.

Thank you, humans, or thank you, Mother Nature, for making this my best winter since I was a young boy.  Thank you for making this a winter I’ll never forget.

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7 Comments

  1. I love to create Beautiful Wintertime Memories by Building a Snowman, how about you?

    Reply
    • KDawg

       /  January 7, 2013

      That sounds nice, but we haven’t had enough snow around here the past two winters to make snowmen/women. But what I do to make up for that is enjoy what happens each winter day in my own back yard. Living on a river, we get a certain batch of waterfowl every year when it turns cold. The river only freezes on its banks, so each day we get to enjoy watching the merganzers, ducks, geese and Great Blue Herrons fish every day. Just watching them do their thing is very relaxing and makes winter just as nice for us as summertime!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!!

      Reply
  2. This is the proper weblog for anyone who wants to seek out out about this topic. You understand so much its almost laborious to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just nice!

    Reply
  3. KDawg

     /  February 20, 2012

    True, which is why I never complain about the heat in the summertime because I can’t stand the cold of winter.

    Thanks for stopping by and thanks for leaving a comment!

    Reply
  4. Here in Oklahoma we don’t have much snow. In fact there is very little snow removal equipment. When the weather forecast says snow they cancel school before they know how much we have. You are right I love the winter without the snow. But here it is often hard to accept the days of over 100 degrees and the nights where it does not cool down. Each one of us has his own burden and own love.

    Reply

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