My (Winter) Hat’s Off To You, New Yorkers.
I’m usually giddy with excitement every time I contemplate a trip to NYC. Can’t wait to get here! And since our last visit was way back in November, it had been too long since we’d walked through the Park, admired the windows at Bergdorf or dodged careening cabs roaring through Columbus Circle.
But this has been a winter for the books, and I am a big baby when it comes to winter.
January, 2014 came in like a lion on steroids with the Polar Vortex. Nearly 6,000 flights were canceled in the U.S., almost 8 inches of snow fell in NYC and on January 7, New Yorkers awoke to a record-busting temperature of 4 degrees Fahrenheit.
And that was just the warm-up, so to speak. As of last week, New York City had weathered fourteen snowfalls for the season, for a total of 4 feet and the most snow ever recorded for a January-February period.
My friend, Lori, sent me photos of ice chunks churning in the Hudson River. Stepdaughter Angie texted pictures of her boys dwarfed by snowbanks and lamented a seemingly endless string of snow days that kept the kids home from school. No one seemed to be humming “Winter Wonderland”.
Travel snags delayed our departure for a few days and I wasn’t as disappointed as I should have been. The California sunshine was looking pretty good to me, especially after Lori suggested I might want to get a pair of cleats from REI to avoid falling on the ice when I arrived.
We left this:
and arrived to this:
New Yorkers are tough. Regardless the weather, they plunge right ahead. I can’t tell you how many women in stiletto heels I’ve seen navigating puddles and patches of ice this week. And only in NYC do you see women gamely skidding in their Louboutins while all the dogs are clad in teeny tiny boots.
In the week since we arrived, I have come up with a dazzling array of reasons not to go outside. Just looking out the window when I wake up drains my soul. It goes beyond S.A.D. (Seasonal Affect Disorder) to something more along the lines of what I have dubbed H.U.T.C.H. – Hover Under the Covers and Hide. Until maybe April. Or May.
It’s not that it’s so cold – we’ve had mostly middling-30’s and even some 40’s since we arrived. It’s just that there is so much effort involved! There’s the moment-to-moment drama of trying to avoid going ass-over-teakettle, yes. But simply getting dressed is a project. Layer. Layer. More layers. Scarf. Gloves. Hat that makes me look like one of those horse-whipping Cossacks. Coat that makes me look like the Michelin Man. The demise of vanity. On me, a puffer coat somehow looks like a much puffier coat. It makes a person just want to, well, Hover Under those Covers and Hide.
And yet, the New Yorkers, the real ones, not impostors like me, persevere. We had dinner with our boys Thursday night, both of whom (clad in lightweight jackets!) insisted that this winter has been “no big deal”. That’s the spirit!
For those of you for whom it has been a big deal, I offer you consolation, or at least diversion, in the form of this poem by Margaret Atwood. And, remember, spring is just around the (possibly very slippery) corner!
by Margaret Atwood
Winter. Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, He shoots, he scores! and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.