Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter thoughts

I'm breaking one of my rules for blogging and commenting. I don't post stuff I write when I'm beat from one of my periodic insomnia cycles, and I don't post stuff I write when I have a headache.

But today I have a nasty pounding sinus headache and I'm posting anyway, not because there's anything terribly Deep to say but because this year is weird and so are my winter thoughts.

As a kid I'd say it could not get hot enough for me. That changed a couple decades ago, probably by means of my aging metabolism, but I still was not a Winter Person.

That may be changing. As years of attempts to get the kids attracted to the idea of moving to even a liberal, artsy southern area, have failed, our focus is changing. We're thinking on establishing ourselves back in NJ again, not at all soon, but in time.

When we lived there for 4 years I could NOT WAIT to be back in the south. This past summer seems to have dealt a death blow to my love of summer.

Obviously this past summer was emotionally hard, but the heat was so brutal that I'm not sure I wouldn't have turned against summer anyway after that one. Blazing heat, all day, every day, every errand and outing bracketed by having the life force sucked out of me by a searing hot car, a trek across broiling asphalt, and back again.

Winter has set in and has been as weirdly extreme as summer was. Ordinarily we get snow flurries maybe once every couple years. Snows like last February's are once-in-20-year things. This year we've had flurries with minor dusting three frikkin' times, including my birthday. The picture above is from the first one when it was still a novelty. I haven't bothered taking pictures since.

And in between - true set-in cold, cold that kept the little bit of snow accumulation around in crevices and shady patches for days. Winter Lite for a lot of climes, but nothing that life here is designed for. Cold barn of a house. Lots of static electric shocks, one of my least favorite things.

And I don't care. I like the winter. I think I could get rather into living somewhat farther north. Not way up, not to get buried for weeks and deal with snow in May. But someplace where a nice stretch of winter can stop my feeling that I should be accomplishing this or that. Weather that makes itself the dominant force of the day so that I forget the past and ignore the future and think only about layering, getting supplies in, and hunkering in my reading chair till dinner. I've never lost nostalgia for our wonderful Victorian NJ house, and feel like, if we could have the right house, comfortable, away from traffic noise, set up just the right way for our life, I could love the seasons.

There's a very good, but painful, novel called Deerskin, by Robin McKinley, about a woman cruelly abused and her hibernation-like healing through a long protective winter that cocoons her until she's ready to come back to life and kick some ass. There I am.

It's more of a current thought than a decision, and I know that processing this past year is a part of that and will keep moving forward. But as our future family life shifts north, it would certainly be useful if my feeling that winter can be a friend hung on. This year, it's my friend.


Christy said...

I still can't believe I feel this way, but I don't think I could move back to the South precisely because of the heat. Five summers in Michigan have made me realize there's a place where you can live without needing A/C 9 months a year I'm fairly certain I'm not ready to go back to the days of sweating even before I get downstairs.

Don't tell my parents.

Catherine said...

Maybe Delaware or Northern Maryland? NJ's taxes are crippling and the traffic unbearable. I don't recommend that State for quality of life. But I do get what you're saying. The heat and humidity of a southern summer would do me in for good, I think.

Or you could move West and live near me -- we have low taxes, and dry hot days with cool nights nearly all summer long .... just sayin'!

Dann said...

Pittsburgh? Columbus? Indianapolis? Or places nearby?

You could keep your current smaller town feel, have access to major metropoli, and the cool weather you crave!


Mike said...

When my grandparents were living in Bethlehem, PA, we'd drive down there from the Adirondacks for Easter. The specific date of the holiday made some difference, but not much: We drove out of snow and bare trees, down through mud, eventually arriving at budding and blooming trees and the first crocuses and daffodils. It was lovely.

The drive back? Easter was never late enough that driving north wasn't a bit like heading to the gulag. I love four seasons, but the moderation of southern Pennsylvania seemed a pretty good way to get that effect.

ronnie said...

My first impulse as I suffer -20C and lower temperatures with wind chills reaching -38C, and watch another nor'easter approach tonight, is to say "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Don't do it! Save yourselves!"

But of course what I really want to say is that you know what you need, and good for you for deciding to think about this.

Hmmm. Maybe we could just trade houses... I have some connections in the immigration biz... What, too far north? No?

Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

There're obviously plenty of happy climate mediums. Media. The main factor is that the kids are determined to be NYrs and we need enough proximity to them - and to any theoretical grandchildren - to get them to come see us. We have considered sneaking over the line into PA. Ronnie, the offer of a house swap is just .... heartwarming! No, really. If only it weren't so far from Long Island, dern it. 8~)

Catherine's part of Idaho is fabulous. But a bit far! Though, Catherine, if you offered to give us your cool new house, we'd think it over!

We wanna make the young folks do the traveling. When the kids were still kids, we survived endless traffic jams on LI and feel we've mostly paid our Belt Parkway dues. Although we of course will endure travel stress to go to Egypt, Ireland, Vienna....