Earlier this week, as I was trekking through the windswept Times Union parking lot like Omar Sharif trekking through Siberia, my tragic inner wasteland reflected in my frosty beard and stricken cow eyes and eccentric, late-life obsession with bridge, I commented to the woman trekking alongside me that it was, ummm, cold.
What I said was: AHHHHH, IT’S COLD.
And what she was: AHHHHH, IT SURE IS.
And then I spouted the same crapo-philosophical pablum I almost always spout in such circumstances, which is: WELL, WE CHOOSE TO LIVE HERE.
And she said: HA HA HA, YES WE DO.
And I said: WE COULD LIVE SOMEWHERE ELSE, IF WE WANTED TO.
And she said: HA. YES WE COULD. BRRRR. HA.
At the time of this exchange, the temperature in the TU parking lot was a million degrees below zero. I told you my beard was frosty. But it had not yet begun to snow; that started later, a few hours before I was supposed to fly out of town to visit my oldest daughter but several damn hours after every damn flight was summarily canceled between here and there, and how else might I insert the word “damn” into this damn sentence?
I would like to blame winter for this turn of events, but that would be akin to blaming a cat for gracefully sticking its butt in my face when I’m trying to scratch it behind the ears. This is what winter does. Right now, it’s doing it really well. There is a million feet of snow in front of my house. I spent a million hours shoveling out this morning, even with the help of neighborly snow angels.
Another splat of philosophizing pablum I’ve been known to spew on occasion is this one: IF YOU LIVE HERE, YOU HAVE TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH WINTER. And this is true. I believe it. Winter is way easier to manage if you put your arm around its waist and give it a squeeze: go skiing, go skating, go sledding, and while you’re at it, wear lots of wool. Long underwear helps, too. And good boots.
But even my closest friends can be a pain in the arse on occasion, and this year, winter is getting on my nerves.
For instance: this is a transcript of our conversation this morning.
ME (shoveling): Well. My back hurts. You think you’re so cute, don’t you.
WINTER: What did you expect, grrrlfriend?
ME: I expected you to maybe take it easy on me. It’s not like I have ANYTHING ELSE GOING ON IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW.
WINTER: What? Oh. I get it, Ms. Oh So Important Writer-Person. Like I’m supposed to, what, not dump 18 to 20 inches of snow on you because you’re revising your stupid book?
ME: I’m just saying.
WINTER: Oh, give me a break. I do this every year.
ME: Not like this!
WINTER (rolling its eyes): What a. . .
ME: Did you just call me a wuss?
WINTER (still rolling its eyes): You do choose to live here, you know.
ME: Screw you!
But a little while later, I took my son skiing at Catamount, and the heady whiff of fresh powder, cheap lift tickets and mild temperatures eased my grumbling a bit. Glancing from the slope over the snow-caked Berkshires, I had a second conversation with my friend winter.
ME: Gosh, you’re beautiful.
WINTER (batting its eyelashes): I was hoping you’d notice.
ME: You’re a lot of fun, too.
WINTER (giggling coquettishly): I know.
And I swear, my beard was melting.