For 15 of my 20 years, I’ve lived in Rochester. That’s 75 percent of my life and an adequate amount of time to have gotten used to the weather here: the rainy Christmases, the ice storms on Halloween, the snow showers at the end of March. This isn’t new to me, but every year I hope for a change. Most years, I am royally disappointed.
One thing usually consistent with Rochester weather is snow by mid-January. Every year it shows up with a tingling chill, and I’m not ready for it. Maybe it’s because when it comes to staying warm, the situation is hopelessly impossible for me – never mind that I was born in Maine and am part Russian. I’ve tried everything – blankets, thick socks, puffy sweaters that make me look ridiculously out of proportion with the rest of my body?oh, and long underwear, but I won’t go into detail about that adventure.
Sometimes I feel as though I’ve lost my winter spirit. When I was younger I would joyfully hop into my purple, one-piece snowsuit, put on my striped pom-pom hat and frolic in our neighborhood’s winter wonderland with the other kids. We’d build snowmen, make snow forts, have snowball fights and go inside for hot cocoa. Now I skip all the activities and just head for the hot chocolate.
These days, I only seem to see the hardships that winter provides – not the joys of it. I was shoveling three feet of snow off of my car – hands freezing, snow blasting in my face by way of handy snow shovel – when I realized that as you grow older, the snow provides less opportunities for enjoyment and more for catastrophe.
Just the other day I was driving and took a left turn at an intersection. I accidentally turned into a right turn only lane (the arrow was covered with snow), neglected to take the right turn, went straight and almost cut someone off. Now, I’m not a bad driver – I’ve only gotten a few middle fingers in my life – but everyone seems grumpier when there’s snow on the ground. It’s annoying when you make a mistake like that while driving.
The slipping on ice or snow problem is also annoying, along with its many variations – legs go backward, you land on your jaw; one leg goes east, the other west and you end up in an uncomfortable split-like position. The worst, by far, is when your legs pop out in front of you, you’re lifted completely off the ground, seem to elevate in mid-air for a second or two and then hit the ground hard on your back. It’s also amusing that whenever I seem to slip, there’s a large group nearby to see.
There are February holidays to look forward to, though, such as Groundhog’s Day?Woo. There’s also Valentine’s Day – the disgustingly cute holiday where it’s cool to hug little stuffed animal puppies that are covered with hearts and brag about what kind of chocolate your special someone gave you. I’ll admit, I do like that one.
One of the most amazing things about winter is that you finally get to see which college students are so wrapped up in their bubbles of academia that they seem to have no recollection that the season has changed at all. You’ll see students in flip-flops, short-sleeved shirts and even preppy, canary yellow, flat front khaki, Martha’s Vineyard-ish type shorts with sailboats on them. You want to laugh, but it’s too damn cold.
The truth is, though, I could never see myself living somewhere where the winter season is null. I love New England, the mid-Atlantic and Canada. I could never live in, say, Florida, but I think that has more to do with the pastel-colored houses than anything winter related.
I do have a love/hate relationship with winter, and it will probably always stay that way. I may be forced to buy one of those fleece-lined mittens with an ice scraper conveniently attached to it, like many stores are selling these days, and there’s no doubt I will embarrass myself in more ways than one when it comes to cold weather gear, but winter is an important part of my life. I’m not ready to part with it yet.
Kraus is a member of the class of 2009.