I’m ambivalent about winter. I don’t love it; I don’t hate it. Autumn, I love. It’s bright colors and chilly nights, a harbinger of the not-just-cold-but-freezing temperatures to come.
It’s also sudden cravings for sweets and starches, apparently a holdover from man’s nomadic hunter-gatherer days. The cold serves as a biological trigger to consume carbs and sugar in order to fatten up for the harsh winter ahead, only no one’s dragging food back to the cave anymore and harsh is a relative term when you have heat and hot chocolate.
Winter is heavy coats, gloves and boots. And, now that I’m older, head wear. I no longer care if my hair gets mussed so long as I’m warm. Winter is also early nightfall – walking to my car after work in the dark. It’s easy to feel subdued if not downright depressed, a condition now termed Seasonal Affective Disorder. (I love the clever acronym and wonder if it came first).
On the other hand, I like the snow, particularly when I’m looking at it through a window and not driving in it. It’s a blanket of white that makes everything look nicer.
Life is slower because there’s not nearly as much to do, particularly if you are not an outdoor sports enthusiast. Despite having a modicum of athletic talent, I can say with the utmost confidence none of it applies to winter sports.
I learned this early in life, possibly the first time I put on ice skates and fell on my tuchus. I was terrible on skates, my ankles having a tendency to turn in and make balance difficult. When I was younger, I would go to the rink with my friends and “skate” a lap or two, but I was never fast or far from the boards.
Once I tried to play hockey in a backyard rink. I was so slow that by the time I got to where the puck was, it was somewhere else, along with everyone else playing.
Skiing? Worse. Much worse.
I joined the ski club one year in high school. After a couple of lessons, I felt brave enough to give the beginner’s hill a try. That was what I now call a Bad Decision. I wound up building up too much speed and couldn’t stop. I remember crouching, poles tucked under my arms, managing by some miracle not to run into someone. I had such a head of steam that when I reached the bottom of the hill, I skied past the rental shack and eventually into the parking lot, where I really panicked when I saw headlights coming at me. I finally slid to a stop, took off my skis and headed into the lodge.
A week later I broke my ankle playing basketball in gym class and never went skiing again. The world is a safer place.
For a while my brother and some friends had snowmobiles and I was a great passenger. But, in an incident eerily similar to my skiing fiasco, my godmother drove the snowmobile into a pond (though I suspect her escapade involved alcohol). After that my enthusiasm waned.
The one thing I love about winter? The opportunity it affords me to read for hours on end, the only concern being what will fall asleep first – the foot I’ve sat on for too long, or the rest of me that can’t stay up as late as I used to. Thanks to Buffalo weather, and the helpful ladies at the Amherst Audubon library, I’m always equipped for my favorite winter activity. Best of all, it’s indoors.