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BLOG — Thick snow, thin skin

Sometimes, when I encounter a rare moment of solitude, I like to savor the precious experience by making up a silly haiku in my head, encapsulating those seconds in a brief image. Here’s one now:

I just remembered
the supreme joy of white flakes
against a red scarf

I made this one up as I walked to Tom’s in my full winter regalia, basking in the town’s morning quiet, and the season’s first snow. I breathed in the clean smell, and admired the way the powdery drifts sparkled when the sun would slip from behind the clouds for a brief moment. Everything was lovely.

Then I slipped on a patch of ice and bruised my butt.

As idyllic as the first few days of snow tend to be for everyone, it doesn’t take long for me to lose interest. It used to irk me when people would look at me, wearing two hats and two scarves, gloves and mittens, and say, “Oh, that’s right. You’re a Florida girl.” These days, I accept it. I embrace it. I will shout it from the rooftops: when it comes to cold weather, I am a total wiener. I’m what the more condescending of winter-venturers would refer to as “thin-skinned.” But you can keep your snow, folks: 20 bucks says, back home, my dad will mow the lawn on Christmas Eve, and I’ll be there this year to bring him a glass of sweet tea.

My basic mood for the entirety of winter.

My basic mood for the entirety of winter.

That’s not to say that, growing up in Panama City, I didn’t long for white Christmases. We all want what we can’t have, and what I can’t have in Yellow Springs, from December to March, is even a half hour of comfortable temperature. Last winter, I spent every available free moment soaking in a bath tub full of hot water. Was it environmentally irresponsible? Probably. Was I giving a crap at that particular point in time? I was not.

Of late, I tend to associate this weather with bad luck, as well. Living in Lexington, Kentucky two years ago, not only did the heat in my old car die, but the car developed a leak, the source of which was never discovered, but which let in inches of rain in the back floorboards. This rain, in turn, would freeze, refrigerating the car until spring, when it left my floorboards sopping enough to grow sprouts in the thick carpet from seeds that drifted in through open windows. True story.

Then there’s the more recent mishap of me mistakenly locking both my keys and my infant child in the car as it snowed heavily in a Cincinnati parking lot. One firetruck, four kind but vaguely judgmental firemen, a jimmied lock and the tears of a negligent mother later and all was well again, but I can’t help thinking the whole ordeal would have been more pleasant if I’d been wearing flip flops and sipping an Icee in the sunshine.

Lucy's smiling because she's in here, and the cold's out there.

Lucy's smiling because she's in here, and the cold's out there.

Nevertheless, as crabby as I am when I hear that the high back home is 70 degrees while I’m scraping ice from my windshield, there is an undeniable beauty here that winter on the beach can’t match. On the morning of the first snow, looking out from my bedroom window, I could feel that old excitement well up in my chest, a holdover from old childhood hopes, and an ageless appreciation for the quiet loveliness of winter.

That, by the by, is the way me and my thin skin best like to enjoy the elegant beauty of Yellow Springs under snow: from our window, wrapped up in a blanket, laughing down at the suckers freezing their good sense off below. I take a sip of my hot chocolate and sigh. I could do this for months.

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