For those who haven’t had to live through it, let me tell you that winter here is cold. On some days negative Fahrenheit cold. You don’t want to go outside. If you own a car you have to spend many a morning shovelling it out from under a snow bank (I’ve seen cars that have been left by their owners for two months beneath five foot of snow that’s only now melting). If you don’t own a car you’re at the whim of public transport and it’s own particular frailties regarding cold weather. Walking short distances can become challenging as the pavements alternate between clear, narrowed to single file by snow banks, treacherously icy or so impassable they force you to walk along the road at the mercy of passing traffic.
So, I’m managing to make it through not only my first New England winter, but my first winter in five years. Winter in Sydney rarely drops below 60 Fahrenheit, so it doesn’t really warrant the name; you have to remember a light jacket and that’s about it. We had two months in the Himalaya at the end of 2009, and whilst that was cold at night (especially when camping) it was almost always warm during the day.
After leaving Sydney we were a month travelling around the California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona before spending a month in Orange County. Here we contemplated the wisdom of leaving sunny climates and crossing the continent to Boston as planned, but decided to stick with it.
Those people who make such an effort with their appearance (and, on occasion, I’ve been known to be one) begin to give up totally, resigning themselves to anything that will keep them warm and which will withstand the punishment of endless waves of ice and slush. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone in a pair of heels since Thanksgiving.
Today, however, brings the tantalizing promise of spring. The snow banks are getting visibly smaller. It’s over 50 Fahrenheit. My enormous Canada Goose jacket (to which I’m convinced I owe my life this winter) suddenly seems excessive. You can hear the city giving a collective sigh, as if we’d just made it through some enormous trial but could see it coming to an end.
Of course, it will be cold again tomorrow and it’s still only February, so there’ll be more snow yet to endure. But this is a welcome, brief flirtation. A gentle kiss from Spring. A Valentine’s gift from Summer, one all the more welcome for the neglect we’ve endured from her the past few months.