It’s been a challenging winter for a lot of people, including me.
As I write this, the Lehigh Valley is about nine inches shy of setting a new record for its snowiest winter ever.
Temperatures this winter have threatened or surpassed records for cold, as well, and the local electric company reported a new one-day record for power demand. (A fair amount of the heating in central and eastern Pennsylvania runs on electricity.)
I used to eat these winters for breakfast when I was a kid in upstate New York. They were just standard operating procedure. I had no more idea than a penguin has that other climates existed.
And I still profess, as an adult, to like this weather. I watch hockey; I wear layers; I eschew a snowblower and hump the snow myself. I’m not near moving to Florida yet. I declare I never will, me, stomping my boot in the ice and setting my jaw firmly against the cold wind.
But … these real severe winters are not as much fun as they used to be. I can only close my eyes and pretend I’m in Quebec (or Rochester) so many times. I can only go back outside to clean up the snowplow’s wet, heavy leavings so many times.
And mentally evoking the hardy ancestors on the New England and French-Canadian branches of my family tree doesn’t work any more.
Tabarnac! they say. You look back too much. Stop invoking your ancestry as though it meant something. We lived our lives; this one is yours. Go live it as if someone 200 years later was looking back at you. And stop whining.
It was nice this past weekend — close to 50 degrees on Saturday, with an invigorating breeze. It felt like the dawn of spring.
But, as my grandpa’s calendar reminds me, we’re not out of the woods. Winter can stick around for weeks yet.
I seriously don’t know what I’ll do if we get nine inches of snow on Easter, in one of those snowstorms that begins with the work day and ends close to bedtime.
Well, yeah, I know what I’ll do. I’ll put on a flannel shirt and my trashy jeans, and go out to the driveway again, and spit defiantly into the snowbank, and start shoveling. That’s what my grandpa did in 1970, give or take a few details.
It will seem like a cold eternity … but I will once again shovel until the driveway and sidewalks and mailbox are cleared.
And when the snow finally melts, I will treasure the first crocuses of the permanent spring as though they were the Stanley Cup.