When snow accompanied Halloween I was ecstatic. Fall masquerading as winter.
Soon it would lower its disguise and candy corn would give way to candy canes. Skiing and sledding and snowmen were sure to follow.
To love winter you must learn to play in it, or so I've been told.
After testing the theory over the past I-don't-know-how-many-winters, I've become a believer.
The problem is always talking yourself into a little faith. Talking yourself into bundling up and leaving the warmth of your house.
Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is ...
Wait? Winter is cold. And messy. And expensive when you heat with fossil fuel and have to pay for salt and plowing.
Winter, even in the Northeast where we expect its icy grip, holds more than its share of unwanted surprises.
Seasonal flu. Snow-clogged streets. Skidding off the road. Exertion-induced heart attacks. Chimney fires.
It's not as if we don't feel it. It's not as if we can turn off the furnace and ignore stoking the wood-stove. Pipes burst all the same.
But what about this near winter we've been experiencing?
Without snow, the season seems in a constant state of indecision: Warm one day, cold the next. Even the joyousness of snow days and their unexpected pleasures have thus far eluded us.
My daughter's clothing choices punctuate this winter's fragmented sentences. She leaves the house in the morning bundled up in a parka and steps off the bus in the afternoon with the quilted puff wrapped around her waist. Once she gets inside she kicks off her boots revealing bare feet.
She's too young to be that kid at the bus stop wearing shorts and a hoodie as the mercury plunges.
For a moment I consider a trip to the shoe store for shearling boots. I shake the notion out of my head, as well as the accompanying idea that if only there WAS snow, I'd smirk a sinister smirk when its icy crystals wrapped around her ankles where thick socks should have been bunching.
Instead of my credit card, I grab for my parenting bootstraps. "March right back upstairs, young lady, and get some socks."
I sound like my mother, and my daughter looks like I used to -- with a determined squint etched with the notion that her parental unit had lost any and all understanding of what it was like to be young and unaffected by the cold.
And yet it was 50 degrees just a few weeks ago. My son wanted to plant flowers. My daughter was walking around in shorts. I was thinking maybe we'd save some money in heating costs.
Whether it's a function of a weather pattern that can be explained away matters not. It's still an abomination. One of nature's sideshows we should feel guilty for enjoying.
I shouldn't delight in watching the fat robins hopping from limb to limb on the apple tree outside my kitchen window in January. But I do. They remind me that I'm not the only species confused by the spate of cold temperatures -- seasonal at that -- interrupting the weeks of unseasonable warmth.
I squelch any thought of indicator species or global warming, but still I wish for a winter like last year -- any winter from my youth -- insulating its cold with a clean, thick blanket of snow.
Winter isn't missing, after all. It's here and there, hopping around like those springtime birds outside my window.
Siobhan Connally shares her writing and photography at Ittybits & Pieces.
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