we’re almost there

This week, along with groundhogs everywhere, we celebrated Half-Way through Winter Day. Six more weeks? That means, by careful calculation, we have endured exactly six weeks of winter already. This is where mathematicians are seriously in error. That and in assuring us in 11th grade trigonometry we really would use this stuff someday.

I have lived a total of one year in Montana, six years in Minneapolis, and about thirty-two in Chicago. I consider the six years in St. Louis my tropical phase. Seattle was just an unaccountable, wild aberration on the bell curve. Calendars and those annoying math people aside, I am therefore somewhat of an expert on winter.

I know winter. I know how to plug in a car. No, not an electric one, and if you have to ask, you don’t know. I know how to stack a two-square-foot freezer and two tiny apartment cabinets with enough food to last three months, if necessary. I am conversationally familiar with tire chains, ice cleats, and manly man snow shovels. I know how to make six kinds of hot chocolate and a mean vanilla steamer, and I plot seasons by when we switch form hot tea to iced and back again, not by the calendar. We once trick or treated in a two-foot blizzard.

In other climes, they cancel school if the superintendent sees a snowflake on his sidewalk. In Montana, they laugh at two feet of snow and tell the kids to break out the skis.

So how do we in the tundra survive what is, sorry Phil, way more than twelve weeks of winter? With intense psychology. Gross self-manipulation. Lying to ourselves like crazy.

In December, it’s almost Christmas. That’s enough. Anything is endurable if Christmas comes at the end of it. Even a Cher farewell tour.

In January, the seed catalogs arrive. The day after Christmas, they begin appearing in my mailbox. I can spend an entire month drinking tea and looking at pictures of what summer will look like. Where there are flower and tomato seeds, there is hope. I have been known to drive by my favorite nursery in January, despite the fact that the plant shelves are barren and snowdrift covered, just to say hello to a best friend. Yes I know, that is marginally headcase behavior.

February. You have only one option. Tell yourself–it’s the last real month of winter. And it’s a shorter month than any of the others. Here’s where the psychology really kicks in. I know it routinely snows in April. I know March is still cold enough to retain the flannel sheets. But I believe that once we hit March, it’s all over. Winter is but a writhing, whimpering bully who’s just gotten his comeuppance from the new kid. It may get in a few more blows, but everyone knows who is the ascendant star.

So, technically, winter is only half over. But by February, it feels closer to three-fourths. To celebrate, sit back, enjoy your hot cup of whatever it is, and if you have a condo in Florida, I’m your best friend.

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