(To those of you in sunny Florida or So Cal, this column is not for you. I’ve seen your weather report, and because of that, I have to confess the sin of envy.)
As I write this column in mid-February, I am winter-sick. (Note to reader: Before some of you write in, complaining that “winter-sick” is not a word, I already know that. But since the literary geniuses of the world have proven incapable of inventing a word that means “exhausted and/or disgusted by the very idea of abridged days, frigid weather, and the omnipresence of ice, snow, and frost” my word coinage will have to suffice as the currency of complaint.)
Like an obnoxious guest who lingers long after the others have left, this winter has worn out it’s welcome. Earlier this week, we had a snowstorm in Virginia. Again. By my admittedly unscientific recollection, this represented our one millionth snowfall this winter. Growing up, I seem to recall winter being a season; recently, it seems like more of a way of life.
Lately this seems to affect, among the other winter parade of horribles, my appearance. I’m not sure if anyone else has this problem, but once a winter hat touches my head, my hair is irrevocably messed up for the rest of the day. So every morning, I am faced with a choice: do I wear a winter hat outside and wreck my hair, or do I forego the hat and risk frostbite on my ears? Granted, having “hat-head” does serendipitously distract from my chapped lips, but it still looks weird. I usually opt for the hat, and then regret my decision when I meet with clients later for lunch.
Of course, a proper coiffure pales in comparison to the bigger problem of the falling mercury. It’s getting ridiculous.
Yesterday, I looked at the weather report for the rest of this week. The temperature on one of the days is supposed to dip down to minus 4 degrees. How cold is that? That’s so cold that if I left a pint of Haagen Dazs Spiced Pecan Turtle ice cream in my Mustang, I could bring it in, and put it in my freezer to begin the thawing process. (Of course, this is a phony scenario. There’s no way I’m driving my convertible until June.)
Yes, minus 4 is cold. But that doesn’t even consider the “wind chill,” an understated meteorological term if ever there were one. I know this from recent experience. For Valentine’s Day, Lisa and I went to Confession, followed by dinner and a little shopping. By the time we made it out of the store, it was about 10 degrees with wind gusts of over 40 MPH. Since this is an academic journal of sorts, just for fun, let me give you the following problem:
Find the solution. If John and Lisa are on a Confession/Dinner/Shopping date, and they experience a temperature of 10 degrees and wind gusts of 40 MPH, how cold does it feel to them?
It’s a trick question. The solution is: move to San Diego.
I feel like blaming someone for all this cold, so I will. Here’s a shout-out to Adam (from Garden of Eden fame) whose desire for forbidden fruit has made it impossible for the rest of us to grow fruit for five months of the year. Why do I blame Adam? Because surely, winter came as a consequence, not of autumn, but of the Fall. Are you going to tell me that, had Adam not fallen, he would be scraping ice off his windshield every morning for three months? Not likely.
I have tried to see the bright side to winter, but all I get is snow blindness. Lisa, however, remains insistently cheery. On the way back from Mass yesterday, Lisa pointed out the majesty of the snowflake. Her point—although the sound of her lovely voice was muffled by my hat, so I’m not reporting this monologue verbatim—was that the snowflakes on the ground glistened like diamonds and lay gently on the ground as a reminder of God’s creation.
Yes, that is true. But as I tried to regain feeling in my cheeks, I couldn’t help but think of another reminder of God’s creation: the Caribbean.
A long time ago, on an island far, far away, Lisa and I went to the Bahamas for our honeymoon. In the Bahamas, there is white sand that, ironically, makes you forget what white snow looks like.
The warm and serene turquoise water stretches into the distance to gently kiss the azure sky at the horizon. The wind coming off the water feels like Creation softly sighing in relaxation. In other words, it’s the polar opposite of the polar vortex.
So forgive me if I marvel at that wonder of God’s creation. I may never make it back to the Caribbean, but I feel warmer knowing that a place like that exists.
Beach photo © Karel Miragaya / Dollar Photo Club