Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Jinx

Dread came over me the other day as I hit the publish button sending my post extolling the virtues of winter into the world. Being a little superstitious, I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen after I spoke of how happy I was that after a couple of mild winters, we finally had an "honest to goodness winter." I could see the headlines:
Blogger professing love of winter drops dead while shoveling snow.
Now there's some bitter irony for you.

Well, glad to report that I haven't keeled over just yet, but that lovely, joyful winter that had all the makings of a Currier and Ives print on a Hallmark card, took a nasty turn this past weekend as a major winter storm dumping about 14 inches of snow was followed by record setting sub-zero temperatures, the likes of which we haven't seen in about twenty years.

All that was followed by the predictable posts from the folks living in warm climates thumbing their noses at us. "So do you still like winter?..." I could hear them saying under their breath to me.

In all honesty I'd have to respond with a resounding yes. For as much as I get tired of all the hassles of the winter season: the layers of extra clothes, the boots that take five minutes to put on and take off, digging cars out of snow banks only to discover their batteries have given up the ghost, despite all that, I'd take winter drudgery over summer misery. Now don't get me wrong, I love summer as anyone who has read this blog faithfully can attest. But miserable is not an adjective I'd use to describe cold, even bitterly cold weather. In fact, there is a sense of satisfaction being out and about in the dead of winter, a feeling of accomplishment as if you're telling Mother Nature you can take all she has to dish out. Fifteen degrees below zero? No problem. Minus fifty degree wind chill? Bring it on.

Summer heat waves are another story. While it's always possible to get out of the cold in winter, it's very difficult to escape the summer heat. True there's air conditioning, but I always feel like Goldilocks in that artificial environment, it's either too cold or not cold enough, never just right.

I never feel quite so alive as when I'm walking around outside in the bitter cold, properly dressed of course. On the other hand, tossing and turning, trying to get to sleep on a hot summer night just makes me want to die.

Back in 1995 during a terrible heat wave here in Chicago, some 750 poor souls did just that. There are surely winter casualties as well but a small number in comparison.

The summer misery we experience here in Chicago can't hold a candle to the misery our friends suffer in places like the Gulf Coast and the southwest. I have experienced 110 in the shade in Phoenix. True it's a dry heat but so is the heat found in an oven. It's not unusual for folks in the Valley of the Sun in the midst of the great Sonoran Desert to experience days or weeks of temperatures that hover consistently around 120 degrees Farenheit. From my experience, the streets of summertime Phoenix are as deserted as Chicago's were during the past two days of double digit below zero weather. The difference is that today, with the temperature finally above zero if just barely, life has returned to our streets. And believe it or not, after the past two days, today feels downright balmy.

The summer temperatures in the Gulf Coast can't match those in Phoenix, but then again they can't brag about the low humidity either. But the real misery comes during hurricane season when people are routinely forced to evacuate their homes, not knowing for sure if there will be a home to come home to.

No thank you. It may be tempting fate to say it, but I'll take the cold any day.

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