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Front Page » January 20, 2011 » Winter survival » The two sides of winter: Anti-winter diatribe
Published 1,288 days ago

The two sides of winter: Anti-winter diatribe


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By JOHN SERFUSTINI
Sun Advocate reporter

Far be it from me to indulge in hate speech regarding the season were are in. So let's conduct this seminar as an examination of why I gently suggest that winter is inappropriate climatic behavior.

First and foremost on the list is that winter survival is expensive. For those of us who are frugal, aka "cheap," we don't like watching money flowing out of our accounts like blood from a cut artery. Consider these costs:

You and every member of your family need an entirely different wardrobe, consisting of coats, gloves, sweaters, insulated boots, and any number of accessories to keep the cold off our skin. Compare that with shorts and sandals, which is all you need in summer.

Home heating bills skyrocket. You can get by without air conditioning in summer, but you risk frostbite if you try to conserve energy in winter.

Chores multiply in winter. Those of us without garages have to scrape windshields at daybreak, for example.

You can't schedule and plan when you'll shovel snow, either. In the summer, you can say you'll mow the lawn Saturday morning. You can put your sprinklers on autopilot. In winter, you've got to shovel whenever the snow falls, any day, any night, or risk a lawsuit if someone slips on your sidewalk.

Cold hurts. When you're young, you don't notice so much. But as you age, the joints begin to ache when the mercury drops.

Winter is the heart of darkness. There are more hours of night than there are of daylight. Vampires appreciate this, but the rest of us have to miss the brilliance and warmth of sunshine because the sun is only up while we're at work under the fluorescents.

Our language is biased against cold and dark. Cold-hearted, Dark Ages, cold-blooded, winter of our discontent, cold-shoulder are just a few examples of how our language shows the widespread, shared judgment against winter.

Mythology also shows that people long ago also shared a dim view of winter. The Greeks tell us that Persephone, the daughter of Zeus and the earth-goddess Demeter, was kidnapped by Hades, the god of the dead, and forced to marry him. To make a long story short, Persephone is allowed to spend six months above ground. This makes Demeter happy so the flowers bloom and crops grow. When Persephone has to go back to be queen of the dead, Demeter mourns and the flowers and crops wither.

I think winter also makes litterbugs more arrogant and sociopathic. They act as though their cigarette butts, pop cans and candy wrappers will disappear forever under the cover of snow. Come spring, though, and all that accumulated trash becomes visible. And soggy.

Winter, like an unwelcome guest, also has a tendency to hang around too long, or pretend to leave and then come back. You'll get a few nice days in March, and then, wham!, winter's back. This has a measurable effect on people's attitudes. I would guess mainly for the worst.

Compare winter's slow, fickle yielding to spring with summer's graceful exit into fall. Summer leaves us with colorful leaves, a harvest of good food and crisp mornings. Winter goes out with mud and the aforementioned trash on the ground.

As one who has a lot more winters behind him than ahead, I'm not complaining too loud, though. Let me say, however, that hibernation doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

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