Today is the first day of my least favorite season. I know that the impending cold, snowy dormant phase of the year is necessary for nature, but I’m less than enthusiastic about embracing it. In fact, I’ll probably be downright whiny at some point in the next few months. 80 is my favorite temperature and we are sure to have a long wait before it appears on the thermometer in the new year.
I will be the first to admit that personal fear is one of the factors that contributes to my dread of cold and snow. I fear fires, falling, illness, and accidents. Several members of our family have been killed, injured, or displaced by house fires. I vividly remember seeing one of my young cousins after she survived getting burned by a heater. It seems that each night there is a fire story on the news. And while I’m not losing sleep over it I am well aware of the dangers of winter heating.
As I’ve aged and the toll of previous accidents, injuries, and surgeries has become more evident in my joints and muscles, I’ve become more cautious about boldly venturing forth on snow or ice or even in the rain. I once enjoyed outings to the snowy slopes of CA and I even attempted skiing a time or two. Now I have a walking stick I sometimes use to get me safely from the front porch to my truck.
I’m seldom sick, but if it is going to happen, it will happen in the winter. We all know the dangers of being constantly closed up in stuffy rooms with sick people. I work in an environment that is laden with germs anyway and I count that as one of the reasons for my unusually tough immune system. However, each winter there seems to be something that makes it through my defenses and knocks me down for a day or two.
Driving is more hazardous in the winter and very few people seem to adjust their schedules to give them more time to reach their destination. Each day I encounter people who are driving much too fast for the road conditions. One day recently I was driving 60mph in blinding rain when a truck passed me and made it even more difficult to see the road. My first thought was that years ago 55mph was the required speed on the same roadway, even in perfect conditions! Times have changed, but the need for safety has not. Everyone needs to leave a little earlier so they don’t have to drive like speed demons in order to get to work on time!
Of course personal comfort is the other issue that contributes to my prejudice against winter. I just don’t like to be cold. I own two heavy coats, four sweaters, and a dozen sweatshirts, plus scarves, gloves, mittens, heavy socks, and boots. I would probably buy even more gear if I still lived in a colder climate. The year we lived in Iowa taught me a lot about layering and being prepared…lessons I learned quite unwillingly.
And yes, I know that I am blessed to live in an area that historically has relatively mild winters. In the past we have even mowed our lawn during Christmas break. February can bring snow or warm winds. Like any other season here on the plains, the watch word for winter is “unpredictable”. Our worst winters are considered “balmy” by residents of the East. My advice to them is “move to Oklahoma!” But, no matter how our temperatures and conditions compare to those of other states, winter is still winter…cold, dreary, and dangerous.
So..be prepared, be careful, and be hopeful. The first day of spring will be March 20. Mark it on your calendar!