Saturday, November 10, 2007

Operation Embrace Winter

Mother Nature had the common decency to wait until November 9th before sending the first snow of winter to Twin Cities’ residents. For roughly 8 minutes puffy white flakes fell to the ground; the curtain going down on autumn’s award worthy performance. As a child the first snowfall came with excitement and anticipation of sledding, snow days, hot chocolate, snowmen and igloos. Gone are those good old days of winter enjoyment, replaced by the dread and foreboding of digging out the driveway, trekking the office parking lot in negative temperatures, going weeks without seeing sunlight, and engaging in a never ending battle with dry, cracking skin. While snow is a universal sign that winter is upon us, my own personal sign is the yearly offer from my husband granting me a no questions asked divorce; “Don’t look out the window, you’ll hate me. I don’t blame you if you want a divorce.” As tempting as the offer is looking down the long and dark tunnel of winter, there are other ways to get through this most horrible of seasons.

Devising methods to survive Minnesota’s brutal and harsh winter is an annual pastime. Plans often include steps like purchasing bulky clothes, planning several business trips to warmer locations, bringing the laptop home nightly for freak snowstorm telecommuting, and ritual application of H2O-Plus Hydrating Body Butter. Planning a tropical vacation entails a detailed study of the Farmer’s Almanac and analysis of yearly weather patterns to ensure that the coldest snap of the season occurs during the precise time you are laying on a beach sipping frosty drinks with little umbrellas in them. While all of these moves assist with surviving winter they are all the equivalent of applying a band aid to a gunshot wound; grossly inadequate treatment that does not address the larger issue.

Nature’s natural defenses against winter are misaligned with our modern world; animals, including humans, build up insulation for additional warmth and the body slips into a mild depression to induce more time asleep and away from the cold. While the cavemen probably enjoyed the extra ten pounds and the need for 12 hours a nightly rest my closet and my employer do not allow me the opportunity to indulge in these side-effects of winter. Most of the year is spent battling to lose the additional winter insulation which miraculously comes back despite all my best efforts to keep it off. It is difficult to maintain or lose weight when the body is trying to protect itself from the harsh cold. Adding to the issue is the “winter blues,” that depression that is medically known as Seasonal Affective Disorder; sometimes the only way to find happiness after weeks without sunlight is at the bottom of a bag of Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Stuffed Chocolate Covered Pretzels. Do you think the Girl Scouts would sell nearly the number of cookies they do in August?

Due to circumstances beyond my control our annual February pilgrimage to Hawaii or the Caribbean is postponed until May, leaving my skin and sanity vulnerable to the cold and snow. Without the tropical vacation defense it is necessary to implement a new game plan. In the essence of the old adage “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” the plan for this winter is to do what most Minnesotan’s do November through April; embrace the season. If the last 7 years have taught me anything it is that the battle against winter can never be won. Like any good General would attest an important element of any war is to attack the enemy early and often. Yesterday I celebrated the season’s first snowfall with a 2 hour trip around the Minnetonka Ice Arena with a good friend, trading in our usual inline skates for original blades; step one in “Operation Embrace Winter.” Other plans include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and tubing; all dependant on snow and lots of it giving me a reason to actually look forward to the snow. Maybe this plan will help me understand why everyone who is from here tolerates the winter so well, at the very least it will keep me from taking my husband up on his seasonal divorce offer; I don’t know how favorably the local legal system will look upon a woman leaving her husband because of the cold and I would probably lose custody of the dogs.

7 comments:

Ali said...

You know how you have a bazillion reasons for not wanting to live in NY... this posting is the one and only reason that I won't be moving (a) further north and (b) to the midwest. While NY is not exactly balmy... it is definitely not on that scale. Brrrr....

Ronald said...

We haven't had any snow in Chicagoland yet, but it has gotten quite chilly.

As for "embracing winter"... I'm hoping this will finally be the year that I try snowboarding. And I hope I can snowboard better than I can skate!

Kira said...

Here in NC, we don't have much winter to embrace, but lately we have been embracing Not Having to Use the AC in November :)

Explosive Bombchelle said...

For the record: The photos posted on this piece were from February/March. It is not -21 (yet) and the ground is still green (so far).

husband said...

thank you chelle for clarifying that it is not -21 (yet)...

some good news in addressing the root cause is that with Global Climate Change we'll have the weather that Memphis has in about 10 years. We've just recently switched zones when it comes to planting flowers, in another 10 years we'll be able to keep palm trees alive outdoors year round!

:-D

Nursedude said...

Let's hear it for Global warming! Seriously, I am amazed at the amount of bitching that goes on this time of year as the thermometer drops-this is not exactly a new phenomen.Back when the Vikings were actually a good team that was well-run,I remember NFL films shots of Bud Grant patrolling the sidelines in his stoic fashion at the old Met Stadium back in the 60's and 70's with snow in the background and steam coming from the players purple helmets. When it got to this time of year, I LOVED it when the LA Rams or some warm weather team would come to Met Stadium, and you can see that the cold just got into their heads. Thanks to how poorly the team is managed now and the friggin' Metrodome, those warm memories from the cold time of the year are a distant memory.I guess now, I have to rejoice that when the weather is cold and women wear more form-fitting sweaters and turtlenecks...

Explosive Bombchelle said...

If cold stadiums was all it took to be tough and rugged winners my Bills wouldn't be in such a world of hurt *sniff*

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