Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Winter of Our Discontent

It's a well-known made-up fact that every New Englander has the right to complain about winter. It's actually written into the Constitution. And winter makes it easy to complain about, because each year, it seems to come up with new and original ways to piss us off. There's a certain baseline grumbling that New Englanders do every winter, and, oh who am I kidding? We New Englanders always find ways to complain about every season. For instance:

Summer: It's too hot! It's humid! I'm sweating too much! And what's with all these damn mosquitoes!?
Fall: What's with this frost? Man, it's getting too cold too soon! There's too many leaves to rake up!
Spring: It's the day after the first day of Spring! Why isn't it shirt-sleeve weather right now? One day, it's 65, the next it's 12! Spring is a tease! A damn, dirty tease!

Well, like Mark Twain said,  "If you don't like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes". Which is also what the Ramones said about their songs. Really!

"I'm Mr. White Christmas, I'm Mr. Snow
I'm Mr. Icicle, and why winter really blows!"
Ah, but the winter of 2013-2014 has distinguished itself as being one of the nastiest, most disgusting winters we've had in a whilw, and not just in New England, but the entire northern tier of the United States. Some past winters have had more snow. Others have had bigger cold snaps. But this one. Oh, this one has somehow brought together the worst of both. And it's also even managed to give people below the Mason-Dixon line more than just a taste of frozen Hell on Earth as well!

So when I hear/read people complaining about the winter this year, I say to those who try to stop them, shaddap and let people complain! First off because, well, I'm doing it too, and second, yes, this one is a vile, nasty one. In fact, I'd put it in my Top Five Crappy Winters, and as a born and raised New Englander, yeah, that's saying something. Besides, every person that you let complain about winter is one less person you'll find climbing a water tower with a high-powered rifle.

The problem has been that we've been pummeled with at least one storm a week for a good stretch of the winter, and the temperature has barely broken the freezing mark, so all this damned white crap doesn't melt, but rather ir accumulates higher and higher. Really, we've just about run out of places to put it.

Speaking of the snow, I don't know what is worse: the actual snow, or the hype that precedes it. People at
The meteorological map that pretty much sums up what
every week has been like this winter.
work, cashiers at the supermarket, desktop apps that flash warnings whether you want them to or not, commercials for the 11 pm newscast, all of them, screaming at us about the approaching storm! There's no escaping it.

After the storm has its way with us, there's the question of where to put the stuff. At the end of our driveway, we have Mount Accident Waiting To Happen, a big snow mountain that blocks our view of the road when we're backing out, exposing the rear of our car to the idiots who have mistaken our nice side road for a NASCAR course.

At the other end of the driveway is the Great Wall of Frozen WTF, which is what you get when the plow guy keeps pushing the snow from repeated plowings into the same spot and it freezes over to a Rocky Mountain-like consistency, effectively cutting off easy access to the backyard. But that's okay, because there's nothing important back there that's immediately necessary...

...except, of course, for the fueling cap to the underground propane tank that powers our furnace.

The driveway itself is now known as the House of Terra Memorial Skating Rink, since it's pretty much now a thick sheet of ice that makes Antarctic ice shelves feel inadequate. There's never a Zamboni around when you need one. All we need now is skates and a hockey mask. Failing that, we'll take a chainsaw and a hockey mask.

We are the South; Our blood is chillin'
We are the ones who got an inch of snow
So let's start skiddin'
And the ice has gotten so thick, that no amount of swear-fueled attacks with metal snow shovels will break it. We'd use ice-melt stuff to help us get a jump on it, except that no one seems to stock it anymore. Apparently there's a shortage of the stuff, since much of it was diverted to the South to take care of their own version of snowy Hell. So, no ice melter for you; come back next year! Yeah, one or two inches of snow, and it's a bloody crisis down there. Let's just hold a benefit concert for them and be done with it. I know, I know, they aren't as accustomed to it as we are in the North, but it's tough to be sympathetic when you're doing your best imitation of the Sochi Olympics figure skating competition, if it was being performed by out of shape, drunken walruses with no depth perception and a case of Tourette's.

This winter can't end soon enough, and yet I get this sick feeling that this one is going to take its own sweet time in leaving us, like that final guest at the end of a New Years Eve party. Just a hunch. Oh, an inevitably you hear some people say "Hah! So much for global warming!" Um, the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is actually experiencing a warmer than average winter. It's just the northern US that is being "blessed" with this sneak preview of Mister Freeze's underwear. In fact, it's theorized that climate change has caused more moisture to fall because of warming temperatures, thus the endless hit (hate?) parade of storms.

Of course, I believe there's a special place in Hell for the person who feels that they have to inform you of the next snow storm while you're still dealing with the current one. As in:

You: Wow, after two hours of shoveling this 15 inches of snowfall, I finally got the car freed!
"Helpful" Neighbor: (gloomily) Yeah, well, there's another storm on its way, day after tomorrow.
You: You are cordially invited to shut the Hell up, you ray of frickin' sunshine!

Jack Frost.
But fear not! MLB Spring Training has started, and no matter how much of a tough, recalcitrant bastard winter is this year, it will eventually be overwhelmed by the warm weather. It's just a matter of time before we stop complaining of the soul-chilling cold and start complaining about the stifling humidity. It's inevitable. The only question is will the winter give out before our sanity does?


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