Monday, January 4, 2010

Eat It, Jack Frost: I'm Tired of Winter Already

Less than a month into the official season of winter, I am already, absolutely ready for summer.  Jack Frost, you can kiss my you-know-what: in fact, how about I give you a shotgun and you eat it, with a chaser of antifreeze?

I love a good snow as much as the next person, but after a day or so on the ground--particularly as the stuff melts and refreezes several times--I'm ready for it to be gone.  Not to mention how it accumulates the grime of the road; those six-foot-tall mounds plowed up at random through every parking lot certainly lack the charm of a freshly-made snowman.  My snow itch is scratched by that first real snowfall, and to me, cold weather is worthless bordering on irksome if it's not snowing.

Too, snow and winter weather stops being so pretty and nice when you're a homeowner and gardener, when you have to shovel the walk and the drive every few hours or drive out to help a diabetic kitty in the middle of a blizzard popularly dubbed the "snowpocalypse."  When you worry about ice dams on the roof, where all that snow is going to go when it melts (on top of a soaked swamp of a yard already), and that the power is going to go out because a tree weighed down by the snow and ice snaps and crashes down atop the lines.  Heck, we've still got inches of snow in the front yard and inches of ice in the road!

Speaking of gardening, our poor hollies in the front bed have taken quite a beating in this yet-young winter.  The weight of the snowfalls we've had so far has broken several limbs, and the male pollinator holly spent nearly a week buried completely beneath the snow.  Only a few days after the last branches finally peeked out from the snow, we got socked with an ice storm and freezing rain, though fortunately briefer and less intense than some such weather I've experienced before.  I know they're northern plants and thus are adapted by nature and evolution to survive weather like this, but still, it's no fun to see the hollies pummeled by storm after storm.  Fortunately, the other things we planted seem none the worse for wear, though I did have to rescue the river birch from the uber-wet early December snow.  The red-twig dogwoods are almost arctic, after all, and are so bright and red in the back yard I think I know what we'll be planting along the curb next year.

Ah, wait--I'm not supposed to be happy; this is an angry, annoyed, and grumbly post.  Back on track, then.  I got so tired of the weathermen and anchors on virtually every channel in the days leading up to 12/21 talking about "and it isn't even officially winter yet!" that I wanted to shove a fistful of yellow snow down their throats.  Not that the coming of winter much changed the glee with which they have reported on blizzards and cold snaps that reach all the way to Miami, I suppose.

Over New Year's, we went to visit my family in West Virginia, where several years ago Beth and I spent a white Christmas.  This time 'round, we managed to avoid the worst of the weather on the drive in on the 31st, but after that, the cold set in, and though we'd come prepared for some hiking--one of my favorite pastimes in my hometown--the weather just made that too much of a challenge.  Between the dry, frigid snow which packed after a single footstep into ice (making that walk up the first real hill of the mountainside a near-impossibility, much less the 600-foot gain in altitude to hike from my parents' home to the top of the mountain), the bitter winds, and the sub-freezing temperatures, we got in maybe a 15 minute hike before the doggies started limping on paws which were collecting snowballs between the toes.

The drive back to Virginia and Chateau Papillon was white-knuckled all the way to the Virginia border.  I'd planned to have Beth do some of the driving so I could catch up on lost sleep, but no dice with those conditions.  The WV Department of Transportation had done their jobs, yes, turning the roads completely white with not snow and ice but road salt, but still, any stretch of Interstate 64 which didn't sit soundly in the sun stood two inches deep in slush and ice.  That the temperatures on Sandstone Mountain leaving Raleigh County and all the way through Greenbriar County hovered around 10 degrees Fahrenheit didn't help; road salt simply isn't effective much below 20.  And let's not start on the 50 mile-per-hour wind gusts which buffeted the car the whole way home.

Back in Northern Virginia, the weather is characterized best as cold, cold, and more cold.  Worst, being around a family of school teachers and a young nephew and niece have left me with the same, albeit the sort which makes my throat scratchy and my nose sniffly.

Jack Frost, suck it.  I'm ready for a trip to the Bahamas about now.

No comments: