Almost all my friends think I am crazy; not because I am, but because I truly love winter.
Now don't get me wrong. There are a lot of things that winter creates that I am not a total fan of. But all things have their down side and their up side.
I mean tell me how much you love getting in a car that has been parked in the middle of a parking lot on a July day when the temperature is 102 degrees?
It's really, all relative.
Harry Truman used to say "If you can't stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen." Well winter is that way. If you can't stand it and hate it so much, why are you here?
Once again relativity plays into the equation. If you have been somewhere where they have real winters for any length of time, you actually come to appreciate our veritable tropical winters. Yeah last month it did get really cold here (at my house I saw the thermometer, right or wrong, drop to -18 below zero) but that is really the exception. Try that same temperature on any day in Rock Springs, Wyo. but add to it the 20 mph wind that almost constantly blows there. Or go to upstate New York where Lake Erie and Lake Ontario dump snow mercilessly. And this is not the white fluffy stuff we usually get; it is as wet as is possible in almost every storm that comes across the area.
Or go to Indiana as rain pours down in January and then the sky clears. If you think that little skating rink we had on the roads in Carbon County last Monday morning was bad because of the light rain that fell, try that scenario when it freezes to the streets in huge sheets half an inch thick.
But I don't love winter here because it is less of a winter experience or different than it is in other places. I love winter here because it makes me feel alive.
Personally I love all the seasons, so I just can't say winter is my favorite. However it does have a lot of favorite things about it.
1. I get a kick out of using my tractor to clear the snow when it falls on my driveway. I also, when I have time, like clearing my neighbors' driveways too. I know, just a big kid with a big toy. So what? Shouldn't we all have fun?
2. I don't generally mind shoveling snow. Just like cutting the grass, cleaning up leaves, or planting the garden, it is part of the cycle of life that we all face. Besides, it makes for great exercise. I laugh at people who complain about cleaning their sidewalks but will think of nothing to go down to a local gym and pay for the privilege of working out, while doing no real, productive work. Once a guy even told me he hated cleaning snow in the morning because then he didn't have time to work out on the bowflex in his basement before he went to work.
3. The cold air is wonderful. It makes me breath deeper and is generally fresher to my senses than hot summer air where everything biological that is dead is decaying. Sure, fresh cut grass smells really good until it lays in a pile, gets wet and the sun hits it. Other dead biological matter is even more putrid in the hot summer sun.
4. Whether I take out the four wheeler, the snow mobile or the dog sled, I love the dust of snow that cascades over me. Snow is magical and beautiful. No it isn't great to drive in, largely because most of the time we don't drive in it, not because we can't learn. The problem with snow in our society is that it slows us down and we don't like that. Snow is a patient teacher; in fact snow teaches just that, to be patient.
5. A hike through the snow with snow shoes in a remote area is a site to see. Getting away from the road and the ugly, dirty piles our removal methods and vehicles create brings one into a whole new world. Unlike a summer hike, one can see how busy the wilderness is. A rabbit's tracks here, a deer's telltale footprint there. The natural stillness of a pleasant sunny winter's day in the backcountry is immeasurable.
6. Nothing is better than to be sitting at our dining room table, eating some warm soup my wife poured love into and watch the snowflakes fall. True, many days we must go out into it and fight the ice and roads, but the rewards come on those days when we don't need to do that. People are so hung up on going, why not sit and stay awhile.
7. Winter teaches us about ourselves and particularly about our frailties. As humans we have no natural coat to protect us. We don't have the instinct on how to keep warm or how to light a fire when everything is wet. It reminds us of our humanity and our short time to be had on this Earth. I find this not to be all bad. It makes me keep things in perspective. To survive we must depend on good planning, our wits and other beings. There is nothing wrong with an ego check once in awhile and winter often provides that whether it be in the form of an ungraceful slip on the ice or a machine that we can depend on in dry weather hung up in a dip in the road because we can't get traction.
Okay some of that is pretty philisophical. But winter provides that for me. I try to make the best of it. There was a time when I too cussed the snow and the ice on the windshield. At times I still don't like it, but again it is part of where we live.
It's part of the diversity of life that comes from living in such a great place.