Monday, February 15, 2010

Bleak midwinter report

We're halfway through our first Ithaca winter. Do people count their time here in winters, like they did in Moscow? Actually, we're probably more than halfway through the winter, at least if it thaws out in April like everyone says it will.

On the whole, this winter hasn't been too bad. I was expecting it to be a) brutal, b) messy, and c) gray. Instead, it has been a) quite reasonable, actually, b) cold enough not to be melty-messy, and c) yes, gray, but BRIGHT gray since when the sun comes out it shines and reflects off of all the snow on the ground. I always loved that feeling as a child when I woke up early in the morning and just knew it had snowed because the light shining in through my window was extra bright. I get that every morning now. And the magic still hasn't worn off.

What the magic has worn off of is clearing a foot of snow from my car every couple of days. I've got the process down: load the girls, start the car, turn on the heat and defroster, put on my snow gloves, and then attack the snow buildup. I learned early on that it was a mistake to flip the windshield wipers on while leaning halfway into the driver's seat. All that did was deposit a pile of snow onto myself. So I guess I'm still learning after all.

It's not DC or anything, but in general, it snows here for a few days on end and then takes a break, at which time everybody goes and gets their cars washed so the iced-on road salt doesn't eat away the exterior. I was a little worried at having to drive in the snow since I haven't had a lot of experience doing so, but it turns out Ithaca has the snow plow system down to an art. That's why I've decided that snow-driving skills are overrated. It's all well and good to look down on those other people in those other cities that completely shut down or go crazy when it snows, but really, that's only because they don't have the infrastructure in place to send out fleets of snow plows. It may snow a lot here but it's not like I'm out there in my Corolla busting my way down the road through 4-foot drifts.

My favorite thing about our Ithaca winter is that for the first time in five years, I feel cozy. It was impossible to feel cozy in Tucson because it never got cold enough, at least in my opinion. To feel cozy, you need to get cold down to your bones, hopefully a good, thorough, wet cold, maybe with a few numb limbs and your cheeks red and chapped and everything. Then you come inside and have some hot chocolate and curl up with a blanket on the couch and just savor the process of getting warm. Mmmmmmm. Here, I get to do that every day - multiple times a day, even, since we keep our thermostat so low (61 degrees, and a post about that is coming).

How is your winter going?

17 comments:

Crys said...

I'd been counting down my winters. I kept saying, "After this winter I only have one more to go." But then I decided that was unhealthy because what if Jason gets a job in Michigan or something? Winter is a funny thing. I still hate the winters here...there is too much rain involved=ice and wind for me to be comfortable but I have definitely adjusted. I don't feel stress when I'm driving in the snow. I own way better snow gear. And finally I don't feel the cold like I used to. On days that are 25 with sun I often run around with no coat. The downside of this is that my daughter now thinks she should have to wear a coat. This is not the case for people who weigh under thirty pounds! I like cozy as well...but it actually is cozy in my house. We keep the thermostat at 70 and then turn it down to 65 at night. What is with 61....eek!

Kristen Sheranian said...

Well said. I have been really surprised at how the winter has been. I was expecting this horrific winter, but it hasn't been as bad as I thought. Cold but manageable. Oh and thank heavens for snow plows. They do have it down to an art. So grateful!!!

B-Rad said...

My winter has been remarkably similar to your's. I guess that makes sense since we live about 150 yards away from you. Interesting that you like to get "bone-chilling" cold and then get cozy. I never knew anyone that enjoyed getting that cold.

AmandaStretch said...

Well, I live in DC, so . . .

Fortunately, my Civic and I are doing just fine. It's some of the other cars I'm worried about.

Sarah Rose Evans said...

Eddie grew up with those sort of winters and was appalled when in snowed in Portland. He kept going around, saying, "Doesn't anyone know how to put salt in the road?" And even with his exemplary snow driving skills we were stranded during the storm because there was like a foot of snow on all the roads. It is all about prompt plowing.

Liz Johnson said...

I was good with winter - enjoying it, even - until this past week. Plus South Bend is basically bankrupt, so I think they employ three snow plows for the entire city, and thus nothing gets plowed or salted... EVER. So snow driving skills here are absolutely necessary, at least until you get into a different city (like neighboring Mishawaka, which is practically Beverly Hills in comparison). And the snow just gets packed down and you eventually end up driving to the grocery store on a bumpy ice rink.

My enthusiasm with winter waned rapidly when I was six inches away from certain death thanks to a teenager driving a pick-up truck 50mph around a roundabout. Hmmph. I'm looking forward to March... when it's supposed to get above freezing, and then hopefully the roads will improve.

Merkley Jiating said...

61 DEGREES?! You people are crazy! I have noticed that the winter is not as bad as everyone said it was going to be. I think I disliked the winters in Utah even more than here. But I still don't like the cold.

Trina said...

I'm pretty sure that it was fairly miserable while we were all gone for Christmas. I also keep telling myself that it will likely get a lot worse, before getting better. (Instead of thinking when it warms up, that it's almost over.) That being said. Last winter we didn't leave for Christmas and it got long. It was also a lot colder. Many more days down near, or under zero with biting winds.

Last year we had a picnic outside at the end of March. Then sometime in April, there were two days in the 90's. Then it cooled back down. Since they don't reinstall A/C units until sometime in May.

Winter may end but them you'll get what we have not had too bad. MUD, MUD, MUD, everywhere and on everything! And then summer comes, and almost everyone leaves and misses the Wonderful summer that Ithaca has to offer.

Trina said...

Oh, and it seems that they were better about plowing last year. Still pretty good, but last year they were better. Also, last year, someone was really good about plowing where we park. They'd come through numerous times after a storm and plow any spots from which cars had moved.

The Ensign's said...

Are you sure it's not bad because you're trying to convince yourself that Ithaca is heaven on earth?

Winter here in TUCSON is GREAT!!!!! I haven't lost any of my limbs to frostbite and it's almost warm enough to go swimming =) hehe.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I love winter and know what you mean about that special morning glow that lets you know it has snowed during the night.

Our winter came and went the first half of December. Honestly, it hasn't even been below freezing in weeks and weeks.

We live in one of those non- prepared- for- snow municipalities. In 25 years of living in the same house the only time I have seen a snow plow around here was last winter. After it had been snowing daily for almost 2 weeks.

We are better prepared for ice storms I think. There's less you can do about them, but by being prepared, I mean that people know enough to stay home and hunker down, whereas in snow, they immediately head out for the dumbest errands.

Craig said...

I looked at our January weather, and it never got below 35 degrees the entire month in Beaverton! And I rode my bike to work every day but one, I think. Of course, it was wet a lot.

EmmySue said...

High today of 75 degrees and the A/C kicked on. Winter is great here... but we'll be jealous come summer.

Bridget said...

Trina, you make a good point about us being gone for a chunk of the winter. And I am not looking forward to that mud you mentioned. Yikes.

karina said...

I think 61 sounds perfect inside...we usually sleep with our window open at night as well (so nice when you're under a down comforter).

Our winter in Michigan has been pretty good - not as dark as some past winters, a moderate amount of snow...

We've just had a few problems with the lack of plowing here - it seems that Michigan has cut back on the snow plows a bit. We really have needed our snow driving skills (especially since we need new tires).

Bridget said...

Huh. Liz and Karina, I guess I didn't consider the possibility that there are places that DO get a ton of snow that don't have infrastructure in place (or in place but not running). That is hard.

We have a down comforter, too. :)

Susanne said...

61 degrees inside?! WHY?? Is electricity insanely high? Or do you have gas heat? We keep our thermostat around 69 during the day and today I was going around with a toboggan on my head because I was chilly.

Toboggan in the South is likely not what you think it is.

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