Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Winter, Cold, and Points of View

When I was a child winter didn't really seem like winter.

Chill rains would fall. Frost paint rooftops. Brown leaves clinging to the random deciduous tree branch or mixed in with pine straw  on the ground crunched underfoot or glistened as they were held stiff with frosty ice crystals. The rising sun turned them into a soggy mess. By the time the last leaves fell in February the new ones were beginning to bud as the air warmed.

Snow didn't usually accompany cold snaps. Flurries were a huge event when they occured. Every few years a dusting or a little more would fall. Or a light sleet. More often though still not every year an ice storm would strike a crippling blow. Every winter we'd get heavy rain, even severe thunderstorms, as the fronts dug down toward the southern coast.  After clearing the area (& the air! It left the sky so blue!) dry cold air would remain.

At least it was cold for there. I learned early on the cold like manners was somewhat relative to where you lived. People complained if the highs were in the 40s. I'd laugh. It's invigorating I thought. Cold weather encouraged me to be more active than on those sticky summer days when you'd be drenched in sweat after taking the trash down the driveway.

No. When I was a child winter was something you visited on vacation.  Read about in books ("The Long Winter" seemed so exciting!). It was the American childhood experience assumed in Christmas songs, tv, and movies. To me but a dream.

My sister and I turned the song White Christmas into a joke.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I've never known...

We'd sing every year.

My children see winter differently.

Here snowplows are a common sight. Here you see salt for sidewalks sold next to gas pumps at the station. Everyone owns a snow shovel or two or even a snowblower. Streets are salted regularly. If you are a small child without a sled that's quite unusual.

Over the holidays we visited loved ones in Arizona, Texas, and Tennessee. T was convinced it was still fall in TX because the leaves were still falling from the trees, coating the grass. To him winter is not just a time of year. Winter means snow. Snow means winter.

It's all a matter of perspective.