I spent the first half of my life in New York, so I remember snow and what real winter is like. But living in southern California for more than twenty-five years has created a false sense of winter in me. There is nothing here that resembles the winters I grew up with. Outside my window, there are flowers blooming. My backyard is green with trees and grass, and golden with sunshine. There is no "wind chill factor" in southern California. Ever.
I feel genuinely sorry* for all my friends and relatives back east who struggled through this blizzard. It certainly looks beautiful. My Big Brother who lives in Manhattan said that watching the storm was "like living in a snow globe." Manhattan gets wonderfully quiet during a heavy snow. I'm sure that Central Park is glorious. But if I miss winter, it is only theoretically.
I remember the beauty of winter when I was young, and the fun of snow days and snowball fights and snowmen and finding a good hill for sledding. Where I grew up on Long Island, the land was very, very flat. There was one sledding hill in our neighborhood, a driveway we called "Jocum's Hill," after the owner. I went back there a few years ago: Jocum's Hill was pathetic. It had an incline of maybe five degrees! But we were kids: we made the best of what we had.
But that was in the long past. Ice and cold and snow have no lasting appeal for me. Winter is gorgeous ... for a while. After that, it's a pain in the ass. Shoveling? Slush? Galoshes? Slipping on ice? Dangerous driving? Frozen pipes? Worrying about the TG slipping and driving on ice? I don't miss it one bit.
And I'm not good at being cold anymore. Twenty-five years of warm living has thinned my blood. I think there is some science behind that, but I know it inductively. Every time I go back east, say in the fall, for Thanksgiving, I am reminded how unprepared I am for cold. This Thanksgiving, on the way to an early morning airport pick-up, I had to scrape ice off a car windshield for the first time in twenty-five years. I couldn't help but think of poor, frustrated Jerry Lundegaard from FARGO.
And I have absolutely no interest in cold weather. I'm not a skier. I could never ice skate. I don't have the wardrobe for it anyway. The Tiny Goddess made me buy some corduroys recently, but I haven't bought a heavy coat in decades. Say I've gone soft, I've gone Californian. It's the plain truth. I'll never live in a cold climate again. (I should "never say never." What if Mr. C moves to the Klondike?)
And of course, even though it's over 70 degrees today, sunny and beautiful, I could still find snow – and lots of it – if I wanted to. Just 33 miles from my house, up into the Angeles Crest National Forest, is the Mount Waterman ski area. When my kids were young, I used to drive up into the Crest after it snowed in the mountains (in the foothills where we live, it was rain), and bring back big trash bags full of snow. I would dump the snow on our lawn and the kids would play Winter: snowball fights and snow men and snow angels. In shorts and T-shirts, of course.
Extra kudos to the guys in Brooklyn who made an igloo and tried to rent it out on Air BnB for $200 a night!
* -- I DO NOT feel sorry for my Brother-in-Law, the TV Meteorologist, who was in his glory, at the top of the news for days! He even got on national TV.
So from the safe distance and warmth of southern California, here are some cool wintery clips.
Snowboarding behind a jeep in New York City after the blizzard – "Start spreading the news!"
THE SNOWMAN – from the book by Raymond Briggs – Best Animated Short Film 1982 – My son, Calder's Father, loved this. (I do, too.)
Jerry Lundergaard in FARGO – scraping ice off his windshield
Jerry Lundegaard in FARGO – "I'm cooperatin' – darn tootin'!"
Marge Gunderson in FARGO – "He's fleein' the interview!"
Top Ten Wayne Gretzky moments
Franz Klammer's 1976 Gold Medal Olympic Downhill Run – the greatest ski run of all time
Katarina Witt's 1988 Gold Medal Olympic Figure Skating Performance – to the music of "Carmen"
Torvill & Dean's 1984 Gold Medal Olympic Pairs Figure Skating Performance – to Ravel's "Bolero"
Snowboarder in an avalanche
Spectacular avalanche escape by heliskier