Sunday, February 2, 2014

Polar What???

This polar vortex thing is really bothering me.  As  writer, I pay close attention to words.  I choose them carefully in my own work and I try to respond appropriately to them in my reading.  So all these predictions of another polar vortex, or a named winter storm, they make me grumble and shiver.  Earlier in my life we had these things called cold spells.  It meant that the thermometer would plunge for several days and we should wear  lots of warm clothing.  Stir up some hot chocolate.  Every winter we had a spell of frigid weather, and if we were lucky, it would coincide with he arrival of spring planting catalogs, which offered a vision of warm days, bright sunshine, fresh garden tomatoes.

Cold weather has not just been recently invented.  The planet has even endured ice ages and glaciers.  For those of us who live in the north, ponds do freeze.  Snow does fall.  But also, spring will arrive.  If you believe in Punxatawney Phil, the Western Pennsylvania amazing marmot, spring will in fact arrive soon this year, as today, February 2 (aka Groundhoug Day) was gray and cloudy.  Not a furry shadow in sight.  But don't put away your mittens just yet...

As a younger woman in graduate school, I once bemoaned the terrible cold of a Boston winter's day.

"Well look at you," one of my classmates said.  "Of course you're cold.  Light jacket, no scarf, no hat, thin gloves.  You need to layer up.  Get some warm stuff."

I stared at her.  She wore a sheepskin coat, thick boots, what appeared to be hand-knitted hat and scarf and mittens.  Her cheeks were ruddy but she also wore a smile.

I followed her advice and learned to dress for that slimy Boston winter weather, snow-changing-to-rain.  I stopped complaining and began to enjoy winter--snowshoes and cross country skis and hikes along frozen rivers.  When time permitted, I even left Boston behind for the colder weather of Maine.  Enjoyed it.

These days I feel like a missionary of sorts, encouraging others to also enjoy this dramatic season.    But naming winter storms as if they're hurricanes, or calling a cold snap a polar vortex doesn't help.  It just encourages people to complain.  And complaining involves mostly hot air, not hot chocolate.  Not nearly so delicious.

1 comment:

  1. Hello! I am a local writer and want to interview you for "The Strip!" Magazine about your book, "Macaroni Boy," but I can't find any way to contact you via email on this website---would you be able to contact me at at your earliest convenience? Thank you----Hilary Daninhirsch