It happens every year at this time. A deafening sound is heard around my house. It’s me bemoaning the demise of summer and the soon-to-arrive wicked winter season. The shoveling. The slippery roads. The cold floors in the morning. The escalating heating bills.
But this year it’s going to be different. Instead of denouncing old man winter, my wife and I have decided to embrace him, to welcome him. It has occurred to us – finally – that it’s foolish to insist we’re probably never moving from Western New York, while at the same time cloaking ourselves in woolen coats and bad attitudes every time cold and snow make their annual appearance.
Winter, for us, has always meant isolation. You hunker down. You go out when the garbage has to be brought to the curb.
But this winter we’re making a big change. Everything in life is a choice, and we’re going to choose to warm up to the cold, not grouse about it. People complain about the weather, but no one does anything about it. Well, we’re doing something about it.
Fortunately, our region offers an avalanche of cool opportunities. A couple winters ago, we went to Holiday Valley in Ellicottville. We’re not skiers, but we love good eateries and – bundled up properly – it’s a pleasure seeing the slopes dotted with enthusiastic outdoorsmen and women. We’ll do that a number of times this winter, making all the more appetizing the dining inside, around the glow of fireplaces and friendly faces.
With two young grandsons in the picture, our yard won’t merely be a scene to view through a window. We expect to be packing the pounds on that snowman right alongside the little ones.
Speaking of pounds, winter normally means a boring regimen on the basement treadmill. Sure, we’ll do some of that on truly nasty days. But Western New York is also blessed with many serene and sunny winter days. There’s absolutely no reason not to dress warmly and head out for a walk around the block or through a park. Oscar Wilde wrote that “wisdom comes with winters,” and an exhilarating winter walk can be brisk, beautiful and wise.
And who says folks in their 50s and 60s can’t take to a place like Chestnut Ridge Park, supine on a sled, and revisit their childhood years, when that was the only sensible way to spend a winter weekend?
Then there’s Rotary Rink at Fountain Plaza, the Buffalo Zoo and Tifft Nature Preserve, whether traversed by skis or snowshoes.
Or maybe it’s nothing more than a friendly snowball fight – even if it’s just dueling spouses – to heat things up. And we won’t forget about Buffalo’s winter carnivals, ice sculpting competitions, and cross country ski trails.
Admittedly, such a new attitude won’t be easy. Especially with all the seductive TV commercials decrying the bitterness of winters in the Northeast and extolling the virtues of the warm, sandy beaches down South. And the direct mail brochures that urge you to experience a getaway in the Caribbean or Mediterranean before even one more icicle parasitically attaches itself to your gutters.
But we’re ready for winter in Buffalo. It was a good summer here. And now, in autumn, the season changes. Blazing sun and hot humid days can again wait their turn. As enticing as the tropics can sometimes seem on especially cruel sub-zero winter days, the incessant heat isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be.