Friday, November 28, 2008
COLUMN: Winter Whine
Well, it's official. We're not even out of November, and winter has already sucked the life out of me. I'm sitting here absolutely bereft of ideas staring at a Notepad screen that's the same gross off-white as the sky outside. Dear Sun, wish you were here. Love, Shane.
Yes, I know winter doesn't officially start until December 21st. But I tell you what -- you step on outside without a coat on right now and tell me how it's still autumn, I dare ya. There's a harsh reality out there, people. It's a truth that educators and them fancy word-books don't like to speak of. Me? I call it like I see it:
Autumn is shrinking.
This year, fall was officially ONE day long. You remember the week, right? On Monday, it was 70 degrees out and we were all running around with short sleeves high-fiving each other about our collective awesomeness. By Wednesday of that week, it was 20 degrees out and we were shivering in winter coats looking up for courtesy nooses to drop from the heavens.
Now there's nothing left to do but sit around and take bets on when our first Crippling Ice Storm of the season will hit. At this rate, I'm thinking pre-Christmas. Fa la la la la.
I've been deep in a winter whine for nigh on a week now, starting on the day I was five minutes late for work because I couldn't find my ice scraper in the bowels of my back seat debris pile. My friend Linn suggested the other day that perhaps I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I've self-diagnosed myself with many a malady over the years, but the uninformed and irresponsible part of my brain naturally assumed that Seasonal Affective Disorder was something made up by mental health professionals. You know, for the sole purpose of high-fiving each other for finally creating a clinical depression that can be abbreviated S.A.D.
According to Yahoo, SAD is a type of depression that affects a person during the same season each year. If you have SAD, you may: Feel sad (check,) grumpy (check,) moody (check,) and lose interest in your usual activities (such as stepping foot outdoors? Then check.)
My favorite bit? "Experts are not sure what causes SAD." Well, experts, here's a hint: It's flippin' FREEZING outside. You can't DO anything because it's cold out. You don't WANT to do anything because it's cold out. Going ANYWHERE and doing ANYTHING involves going outside, which I don't want to do because it's cold out. Maybe, just perhaps, people have SAD because it's cold out. Something tells me there's not a lot of Floridians with SAD.
I was never this much of a winter fuddy-duddy. In fact, I used to really like winter. But how I viewed winter has changed dramatically over the years:
IN GRADE SCHOOL, WINTER = Snow! Fun! Sledding! No school! Christmas! Snow angels! Moon boots!
IN HIGH SCHOOL, WINTER = Girls! Girls! Girls! Girls! Girls! Girls! (Okay, I was a little one-track in high school, regardless of season.)
IN COLLEGE, WINTER = No parents! More girls! No parents! More girls! (Maybe I'm just a little pathetic.)
IN ADULTHOOD, WINTER = Snow! (And here lies the downfall of the written word. The grade school "Snow!" was said with wide-eyed enthusiasm and excitement. The adulthood "Snow!" is uttered with more of a shock, disdain, and overall hatred for nature.) And of course with snow comes ice, which means I can look forward to (a) my car being unable to scale my vertical incline driveway, and (b) my annual Three-Stooges-esque icy butt-bruising pratfall of the year. And with snow and ice comes the bone-chilling cold that's already resulted in my first sore throat of the season.
How did the early dwellers of this area survive these gnarly winters? Chief Black Hawk didn't exactly take time out from leading the Sauk to sit around a space heater for four months out of the year. Obviously, Black Hawk didn't have time to whine about the winter months -- clearly, he was far too busy founding a college, a car dealership, and a state bank.
(Unrelated Soapbox Sidebar: Obviously I'm being ignorant. But this type of ignorance is what Chief Black Hawk's legacy could turn into for future generations if the governor of Illinois -- the only official I've ever regretted voting for -- follows on his plan to close the Hauberg Indian Museum at the Blackhawk State Historic Site. Sign a petition if you haven't already.)
As much as I hate winter, I guess I have a hard time envisioning life without it. After all, Christmas without seeing your breath is just wrong. A good friend of mine recently put it into perspective. She's lived her entire life just outside of Los Angeles, and she recently drove up to the California mountains to see and play in snow for the first time ever. She described it as a winter wonderland -- but then she sent photos. There she was with her boyfriend, making snowmen out of a total ground accumulation that we would refer to as a hard frost. Seriously, there's more snow in the frozen food aisle of your local Hy-Vee than what they were romping around in. So I suppose if one person can find magic in a scattered clump of white, we should at least be able to find an upside to the inevitable blizzards to come.
For now, though, I'm just happy whining about it.