Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow Daze

I wouldn't mind winter if it weren't for all the snow, sleet, and school closings.
A few years ago I picked the worst winter to move my family from sunny California to frigid Pennsylvania. My three children and I were greeted by a record-breaking string of low temperatures, the fifth-largest snowstorm in recorded history in the area, and a smart-aleck groundhog that predicted six more weeks of winter (I didn’t know groundhogs could snicker).
Within a few short weeks after our arrival we witnessed every possible variation of snow, from fierce blizzard conditions to gently floating crystalline flakes. I shoveled, scraped, deiced, shoveled, salted and shoveled again. And that was just for one storm.
I coveted my neighbor’s snow blower.
Our wardrobes increased considerably. As for my personal fashion taste, I really got into Thinsulate. It lined my gloves, my boots, my hat, and filled my coat. Next winter I am considering having a complete Thinsulate body wrap until the spring thaw. If that fails, I may resort to reverse liposuction to stay warm.
There are secrets to staying warm here, which any native can tell you: 1) Dress in layers (although no one tells you how many layers you‘ll need. 23 works best for me. I just get up in the morning and put on everything that’s in my closet). 2) Keep your head covered, since most of your body heat is lost from your head (while you try to figure out why you’re still living in this cold climate). 3) Move to Florida.
This winter I made “figure eights” on the ice -- while I was driving. I learned the fine art of skidding gracefully (it involves the absence of any look of panic). The trick is to make it look like you actually planned to slide sideways through the intersection.
I had no need to go to a gym for fitness classes. Icy sidewalks inspired me to create a new aerobic workout more strenuous than stepping, sliding and Tae-Bo. It involved slipping, falling, and struggling to stand again. So much for walking in a winter wonderland.
My children reveled in the joy of a new phenomenon to them -- the “snow day.” This is a day when school is canceled due to weather and road conditions that are deemed too dangerous for children to travel to school. Instead, the jubilant children stay home and snowboard down steep hills with their eyes closed and sled out into the street.
There is no doubt that a winter storm draws a family closer together. This forced togetherness creates a scene reminiscent of Norman Rockwell paintings. The children and I huddled around the laptop warming our hands. Their faces glowed and their cheeks looked rosy from all the outdoor activity (or it might have been frostbite).
The locals told me this was an unusually harsh winter, that it doesn’t usually snow this much, and that it hasn’t been this cold during the previous few winters. I will admit there were times when I thought that just a little global warming sounded pretty good.
The last storm of freezing rain left behind a glistening wonderland of ice-coated trees. It also froze the doors of my car shut, with me inside.
Copyright 2007 Lynn Rebuck