I was driving home today, mind wandering aimlessly as I tried to figure out what I was gonna do with the not-quite-so-alone dude, when it struck me just how unappealing it is outside at the moment. The snow, which last week was fluffy, white, pure, and stacked in piles and drifts tall enough for Jack to have climbed them to the Giant, has a become a sad, dirty, icy reminder of itself. It’s just ugly now, and as it melts, it recedes into the mud, leaving swampiness wherever one used to have a lawn.
It’s enough to drive a person crazy, and many people I know have serious trouble coping with it. A friend of mine has long said that there ought to be a heavy gray color in one of the 20 billion paint chips available at your local hardware store named “Depressing Cincinnati Winter”. I’m beginning to agree. I used to not care, personally, but I as I get older, I find that I do look forward to the drying of the ground and the lifting of that ever-present blanket of gray that hangs in the sky menacingly. I won’t go so far as to claim that I’m actually looking forward to some sunshine, because as most of you know, I’m not a huge fan of that either, but a little blue sky wouldn’t hurt.
It’s kind of ironic how winter flows. Most of us associate it with the majority of December and especially the holidays. Technically, though, the season doesn’t begin until the 21th or so, just a handful of days before Christmas, when the great masses are so frantically preparing for Stress-Fest that they could give two shakes about the winter solstice. When the dust settles on the holiday season in the first week of January, however, we all suddenly find ourselves staring down the barrel of two full months of cold, gray, lifeless, Johnny-lost-it-and-has-the-ax-go-hide-in-the-hedge-maze winter.
We attempt to divert whenever possible, to be sure. There’s the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, the Swimsuit Issue, arguments of relative RPIs, and the annual President’s Day sales on everything (really, why have we associated the birthdays of two of our most cherished leaders to the sale of carpeting and appliances, anyone?). Hell, we even take a day to revel in worshiping at the alter of a subterranean rodent. I overheard a conversation earlier this month between two grown men about whether The Groundhog (Punxsutawney Phil) actually saw his shadow, and if that did or not “count” for us, as the sky conditions here in the Northern KY/Southwestern OH area would be different than in Pennsylvania. It took every ounce of my self control not to smack them both on the back of the head, as if they needed a V-8 juice, and scream, “I’m pretty sure it’ll be Spring on March 20th, and that damn woodchuck can quick causing trouble, if he knows what’s good for him!” Luckily, restraint prevailed, otherwise, someone would have been dialing 9-1-1 as I flailed about, wild-eyed and panting, blustering on about the untrustworthiness of common burrowing animals as weather predictors.
I don’t mind winter, really, but I am tired of dirty snow and gray skies. My birthday is March 12th, and as far as I’m concerned, Spring arrives with it. Until then, I’ll apply the best salve I have for seasonal discomfort: beer.