Deal With It

mother nature     It’s been almost one month since Groundhog Day, almost one month since the celebrity rodent did not see his shadow, supposedly portending an early spring.
A conversation with Youngest Son today revealed his sentiments on the four seasons – he sees March 1st as the beginning of spring.
You know what all this means?
Nothing.
A big, fat, steamy pile of Nothing.
We live in New England, where there’s always six more weeks of winter, to hell with what Phil says, and where March is just one big disappointment.
Thirty-one long-ass days with no holidays or vacations to break up the drudging monotony that is March. The calendar says spring is supposed to start, but we are Veteran Victims of New England Winters and we know better than to get our hopes up.
We also know better than to put away the snow blowers, shovels and ice melt.
We do not dare to hope or dream of spring actually arriving anywhere near March 20th. If we do get a mild day or stretch of days, we walk around saying cynical things like, “Don’t hold your breath,” and “We’ll probably get a Nor’easter next week,” and we nod at each other knowingly.
Yep.
March is one big let-down.
Some New Englanders insist on being optimistic: “But spring is right around the corner! Can’t you feel it?”
I think they’re just lying to themselves. And I refuse to go along with their malarkey.
But New Englanders are a hearty bunch, and we are proud of that. We’re built to withstand the endless grays of winter, sometimes cold wet winds with no beauty of sparkling snow; and blistering heat and humidity, not unlike trying to breathe through a hot wet blanket. And sometimes manic temperature swings that happen within days, or hours, of each other. We know that April 1st is too early to pack away winter coats and boots, and that Halloween only means that there might be a couple more flip flop days still to come. We learn how to drive in the snow and we teach our kids to do it too.
We’ve also perfected the fine art of complaining about the weather. We do it daily, and we do it well. It rolls off the tongue as easily as “How are you today?” But it isn’t something that is debilitating, this complaining. It’s just what we do. We’re not chronically depressed or upset because of the weather. (Well, most people I know aren’t…) We complain, we deal with it, and we move on.
We know that ten day or even five-day forecasts are about as useful as a square wheel on a bicycle. It really makes no sense to count on the weather for anything, and to always have a back-up plan.
Our kids learn to dress for the weather, or deal with it. Kids who complain about being under- or over-dressed for the weather rarely garner any sympathy from the parents.
“Oh… your feet are freezing because it’s 12 degrees out and you’re only wearing ankle socks with your Converse? Well, maybe next time you’ll remember that it’s Winter in New England.”
Our kids go outside for recess in all types of weather, and the schools remind them to come prepared. One of my favorite stories regarding recess and weather comes from my niece, who spent a large part of her childhood in Aspen, CO and then moved to Miami, FL for a year.
“… and they CANCELLED recess! Because it was 60 degrees! They said it was too cold!” she told us.
Oh we all had a good hearty laugh about that.
Temperature is relative in New England. Sixty degrees in March finds us pulling out sandals and beach chairs; but sixty in September and we feel the need for our zip-up fleece and a fire. And after a heat wave of mid-nineties in the summer, we get excited for the “cool” relief that 83 degrees brings.
Just two days after Groundhog Day, it was fifty-one degrees outside. I walked the dog and broke a sweat, chatting up my neighbors that I saw. We were all smiling and breathing deeply, leaving our coats behind. But we were also greeting this day with a healthy skepticism. We don’t trust a winter thaw any more than we trust a smiling salesperson with a clipboard knocking on our door.
New England weather is crazy, and when you grow up here, that’s just normal. I cannot picture living anywhere else though. Sometimes I hate the weather, but mostly I love it. I cherish my right to complain about it. It is what it is, and we just deal with it.

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