Jessie Raymond: Winter again proves to be a hot topic
Please believe me: I didn’t want to write about the weather.
You may recognize it as a theme I revisit throughout the year. July: “It’s too hot.” December: “It’s too cold.” January: “It’s even colder now than the last time I wrote about how cold it was.”
And I know what you’re thinking: “This again? When is she going to get back to how incompetent she is as a gardener?” (Patience: Summer is coming.)
The truth is, I don’t have the most exciting life to write about. Weeks go by when the most notable thing that happens to me is I run out of stamps. Sometimes, weather is all I’ve got.
At other times, however, such as after last weekend, it earns real attention.
The way I whine in print, you might be surprised to learn that in real life, I’ve been trying hard to stay positive about the weather, no matter how much I annoy my friends and family.
I wasn’t always so rational. A friend once told me ages ago, when I was griping about the temperature (see “It’s too cold,” above), “There’s no such thing as bad weather. It’s just weather.”
I stopped speaking to him after that.
But, having realized that embracing my misery every winter somehow wasn’t making me happy, this year I decided to try his approach. No judgment. It’s just weather.
It almost worked.
“I’m so sick of being freezing all the time,” one friend said not long ago. I get it. I had to knit myself a pair of thick ankle warmers — think Flashdance fashion — to wear around the house, having found that simply not shaving my legs failed to provide adequate insulation below the knee.
But I promised myself I wouldn’t complain.
“It’s fine,” I told her. “Just wear layers. Check out these ankle warmers.”
Glancing down at my fluffy feet, she made a face. “They make you look kind of like —”
“— a 1970s dancer?”
“No. Like a Clydesdale.”
(That was just the hypothermia talking. She’s generally quite a nice person.)
Another friend, clutching her Ott light to her chest, said, “The constant darkness is so depressing.”
I affected an endearing Mary Poppins smile. “Actually, I like how cozy it feels to sit by a warm fire when the winds are howling outside at night.”
“Agree to disagree,” she said, hurling the Ott light at my head.
They didn’t understand: grousing about the weather doesn’t change it. So why let it bring you down?
Then this weekend happened.
As you may recall, over a foot of heavy, wet snow fell on top of a layer of spring mud. At our house, we managed to bury not one, but two vehicles in the driveway while trying to leave Saturday morning.
Mark sputtered and swore as we dug down through the snow to expose mud-slicked tires. Though my heart was as heavy as the snow that stuck to the shovel and had to be knocked off by hand after every scoop, I refused to show it.
“Don’t be a grouch,” I said to Mark as we labored on. “It’s just weather.”
I didn’t like the way he glared at me and tightened his grip on the shovel, so I moved to a different part of the driveway.
“It’s just weather,” I kept saying (quietly, so Mark couldn’t hear me). But was it? Spring had been on its way, and now here we were, stuck again. Stuck in the driveway. Stuck in winter.
After nearly two hours of heavy digging — how can a person get so sweaty yet have such cold toes and fingers? — we had little progress to show. All of a sudden, a winter’s worth of suppressed despair crashed over me like an avalanche.
I curled up in a ball on the half-shoveled walkway and sobbed into my mittens. “It’s not ‘just weather,’” I said, over and over. “It’s bad weather. It’s so, so bad.”
I might have wallowed there all day if not for Mark’s words of encouragement: “Get up, Lazy, we’re not done!”
It wasn’t my finest moment.
Of course, by the time you read this, the snow will be all but a memory, and last weekend will be water under the bridge — or, more likely, given the rapid snow melt, over it.
So I apologize for once again writing about the weather. But I want you to know that I really did try to convince myself, and everyone around me, that this winter wasn’t so terrible.
I’ve got the Ott light scar to prove it.
Mark A. Nelson of Bristol
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