I am a Snow Curmudgeon™. I hate the snow. Well, I actually don’t hate hate it. It’s very pretty when you are inside looking out a large picture window with a fire blazing in the fireplace. It’s so quiet and peaceful.
It could be like reliving my childhood when my children wake up to find the outside world completely white. Their excitement is unbridled and even infectious. It could be like reliving my childhood if my childhood included snow.
But I grew up in Southern California. Yes, we had snow every so often in the mountains above my house. And, yes, it actually snowed once on our street. The precipitation lasted all day and everyone got to build snowmen on the hoods of their cars. But, my early experience with the white stuff was mainly hearing weather reports stating the snow level to be 5000 feet above my head. Its distance was both alluring and magical to a young boy. It was a safety zone between childhood dreams and real world realities.
But now I live in a different world and a different climate, where dreams meet reality. Washington, DC is not Buffalo, NY (thankfully) but we do, on occasion get some accumulation. Thursday we got seven inches (just about 18 cm). And, given the lessons of 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, I’ve learned it’s good to be prepared, even for these more benign weather-induced events.
We’ve got an ergonomically designed snow shovel. And this year I actually got to wear my LL Bean Gortex snow boots. Coupled with my Smartwool socks, my feet are cozy and my back is in good shape (see my reviews of both boots and socks from last season).
But this is where my good nature ends. When I have to actually leave my front door, I realize how deeply I have been molded (to say nothing of being motivated) by my upbringing. I shudder at the thought of having to slow down as I race out the door.
I have to interact with nature. And this is very alien to my L.A. experience (you will remember my various bouts with autumn leaves). As winter enters my life once again, I notice how long it takes me to don my coat, hat, scarf, and gloves. While others walk (and talk!) as they put on their winter gear, I must stop and think about what I am doing. I cannot carry on a conversation nor multitask while involved in this activity.
To go anywhere today I must first shovel my way to the driveway. Once there I must sweep the mound of snow off my car. It has remolded my sedan to look like a more visionary Audi TT (one of the few ethereal pleasures of this man-boy’s snow dreams).
With brush in hand, I begin. I am forced to slow down. The repetitive nature of the task leaves me room to think. And I wonder “why am I in such a hurry?” Being the amateur cultural theoretician that I am I begin to formulate my hypothesis.
Growing up in Los Angeles, I almost never had to consider the weather. Yes, we had “winters” of rain and relative cold (if you can accept 60°F/16°C as cold) but I never had to attend to the weather’s effects. I went about my daily business with regular speed, without thinking about it much at all.
Lack of definitive seasons has induced a sense of timelessness upon the region. Citizens don’t mark time in the same way we do in other parts of the world. And, therefore, it’s easier to think you are as you always were: young, strong, and engaged in your daily program—without interruption. This is why Los Angeles is so youth oriented.
If you are over 25 you are over the hill in Hollywood. The wisdom that comes with old age and many hard-earned experiences means little there. Remaining young, of course, allows us to believe we aren’t old. And the weather is our ally in this charade.
The seasons here have forced me to mark time. And as I brush the snow from my car I stop to consider the pace of my life. The snow is a gentle reminder of, rather than an impedance to my goals. There is nothing I can do to hasten my push forward at that moment. I must methodically and slowly attend to this task before I can move on to the next one. I am totally immersed in the process of existence and not the endpoints of my daily or even life-oriented ambitions. This is my experience now.
There is something special and important about being snowbound.