THIS POST APPEARS OUT OF SEASON, BUT UNFORTUNATELY IT’S STILL RELEVANT…COME ON, SPRINGTIME!
I love winter. The soft white winter dawns, the sunny, icy hard-like-a-diamond winter days, the winter twilights with deep blue shadows shading into night, all evoke for me feelings of peace and wonder at the beauty of nature. I love winter — but not all of it. My most hated aspect of winter, really the only part I hate except for sudden ice storms, can be described with that falsely cheerful euphemism The Weather Channel uses to describe the most dangerous condition of the season – “wintry mix.” Not a tasty bridge mix of chocolate-covered nuts and candy, “wintry mix” refers to that dangerous mixture of ice, sleet, snow, and rain that seems to strike during every February just when spring fever rises. That is why, out of all the months in the year, I hate February the most.
February is neither full-on winter nor early spring. February brings alternating freezes and thaws, clear streets and dangerous black ice when the temperatures plunge after dark. February offers the hope of warmer weather by melting most of the snow on the ground, giving us one or two balmy springlike days, and then reneging on its own promise by slamming down a snowstorm which dumps more precipitation on our heads than an arctic blizzard in January. February is slipping and sliding pedestrians, fender benders in the streets, shoppers falling down and potatoes and cans of soda rolling over grocery store parking lots.
After one deceptively warm period last February, I had the memorable experience of being temporarily trapped inside my car. It had rained that day, but after dark the temperature dipped below freezing and the parking lot of my apartment building was coated with a thin, invisible layer of black ice. I had safely negotiated the slippery streets and parked in my usual spot, only to find that I could not stand up on the asphalt to get out of my car! This February, after two nice, deceptively warm days in a row (Lies! It’s all lies!) I thought I would prevent that by scattering salt and sand around my car just before the next round of “wintry mix.” When I finished patting myself on the back for my canny foresight, I realized that I had, in essence, sprinkled a magical protective ring of salt around my car to protect me from evil (and embarrassment).
I enjoy December and the ethereal loveliness of the first snow. I am sentimental about white Christmases. I even admire the huge killer icicles dangling from the eaves of the apartment building next door to mine, which apparently doesn’t have enough insulation in their attic to prevent them from forming. But I never, ever wax poetic about the one aspect of wintertime which makes me long for springtime and summer. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the only good thing that icy, slushy February brings to the seasonal table is that it feels so great when it’s over.