December 16, 2022
I am not a winter person. Never have been. I really don’t like being cold or dealing with icy roads and sidewalks. And while this may be a pretty common sentiment among many, I do have the added distinction of possessing now arthritic knees with somewhat limited mobility/agility to further substantiate my anti-winter position. The near constant threat of slipping and not being able to count on your knees to catch you is a level of stress I would simply prefer to avoid if possible. But this distaste for all things winter harkens back to a much earlier time in my life.
When I was in the 3rd through 6th grades, my mom moved us from the city out to the country. Literally, the name of our street was 4-wheel-drive. That little fact has always made topping my “porn name” a very difficult feat. Name of Street You Grew Up On + First Pet Name= 4-Wheel-Drive Muffin. See what I mean?
As a kid, I keenly remember relating to the books The Country Mouse and the City Mouse Adventures. In the city, I had power and running water but in the country, I was collecting rainwater and cutting kindling. I still bear the scar of a burn from trying to clean the kerosene lanterns. No telephone was probably the hardest part for my pre-teen self to manage. That, and the lack of ability to curl my stick straight hair. I tried perms and overnight curlers but nothing relaced a crimp curler in the 80s and I knew that pain all too well. To get to school, I walked ½ mile along our dirt road driveway to the bus stop rain or shine. In the winter, after a snowstorm, I would have to wear my “hiking boots.”
Now, I was never really a girlie girl in my younger years. I hated wearing dresses and always preferred jeans and tennis shoes. Much easier to climb trees and build forts in this type of practical and functional wear. But I also had a heightened sensitivity to being mistaken for a boy after my mom had cut my hair short years earlier to teach me a lesson. I had attempted to cut my own bangs after my mom refused to trim them. She wanted me to have same length long hair, typical for her hippie style but I was a child of the 80s and bangs were nouveau. I took matters into my own hands. Unfortunately, at age 7, I lacked the dexterity to properly manipulate the shears and ended up cutting my bangs nearly to the root in an attempt to “even them out.” Whoopsie. My mother was pissed that I decided to go against her wishes, so she took me to the barber who cut all of my hair to the style of a boy. At the time, my Spiderman t-shirt and a pair of jeans were my favorite daily attire. I clearly remember walking down the street with my mother when an older gentleman commented, “Oh, what a cute son you have there.” I was humiliated and seething with anger internally but wouldn’t allow my mother or this idiot the satisfaction of knowing how upset I was. I held my head high and calmly replied that I was “not a boy” and kept walking. That was the last day I wore that Spiderman t-shirt.
But now, let’s rejoin the still prepubescent version of myself on that snowy winter day as I was walking to the bus stop in my “hiking boots.” These things were awful. And, even worse, they were boys’ boots. That was the thing. They were ugly, sure… but I had suffered the humiliation of being forced to wear plenty of ugly things before. Like I said, this was the 80s. But to force me to bear the humiliation of wearing boys’ boots to school on top of the drudgery of walking half a mile in the snow? It was just too much. Once again, I was forced to take matters into my own hands. Which meant that I would sit under a tree off to the side of the road until I was sure that I had missed the bus. Then, I would walk back home and sadly plead my case that I had walked all the way there and missed the bus anyway. I would need a ride to school that day after all. And, since I wasn’t walking to the bus stop, I would also be able to wear my normal shoes to school. Check mate.
I will say… Even though I still don’t LOVE the winter… and I think my knees would be happier living in an environment where one layer would suffice. There is something quite magical about the snow that falls when the temps have stayed well below the freezing point. It maintains a powdery consistency with a glittery effect. And how I do love glitter. It’s not good for building snowmen or having snowball fights but it is lovely as you walk through the fields or woods. And if you are lucky enough to have the sun shining on your back or face, you will feel the warmth that reminds you that life is still good as you gaze out on the diamond filled glittering landscape pretending that you are actually sitting on the warm sands of Hawaii as the waves lap in the background.
Aloha and Mele Kalikimaka from frozen Deutschland.