Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Out of Season

Life is a series of milestones, and I have reached another one. This one has to do with winter. Thirty years ago, I loved winter, I looked forward to winter. Some time in the 1980s, Masterpiece Theater presented a dramatization of The Last Place on Earth, the story of Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen racing to the South Pole. That winter, as I walked to Dairy Mart each morning for the paper, the snow crunching beneath my feet, and the bitterly cold wind blowing off the ice-covered lake, I pictured myself slogging across Antarctica. Just to be on the safe side, I traveled with the Norwegians rather than with the always confidant but hopelessly incompetent Scott.

Shoveling snow was a challenge then, especially as the snow piled up and there was no more room to put it between our house and the neighbor's fence. I had to carry the excess to the backyard by the shovel full. But it was a welcome challenge. A job that once done, I wanted to say, "Come on, Mother Nature, is that the best you can do?" Then, oh so pleased with my indomitable spirit, I went inside for some hot chocolate.

Around the middle of February every year, winter would be interrupted by three or four spring-like days. Only then did my thoughts turn to warm winds and sunshine. When the seasonable weather returned, which it inevitably did, winter had lost its luster.

As the years past, winter began to lose its thrill. Well, maybe it didn't lose its thrill, but the thrill didn't last as long. For a while, I was fed up with winter by Groundhog's Day. A few years later, it was the middle of January, and by the turn of the century, a white Christmas seemed like a suitable finale for winter. I still looked forward to the first snowfall of the season, but not for long. Five or six years ago, the day we returned to standard time was the last of a string of wonderful fall days. It was followed by two weeks of unrelenting overcast and frequent rain. A dark and depressing fortnight that left me sick of winter several days before the first flurry fluttered by the window.

Which brings me to today's milestone. It's Tuesday; the autumnal equinox is Friday. Summer isn't over yet, and I'm already sick of winter. That's never happened before.

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