I have discovered (or maybe I have always known) that I am the only member of my family of origin who truly and deeply loves the winter. My mother and older sister are beach girls; my younger sister is a self-proclaimed "snow grinch" (in fairness, she got two feet of snow yesterday and today, which does seem like enough to make anyone feel grinchy), and my brother is a paramedic who has spent a lot of time driving an ambulance in awful conditions. My father has not weighed in on the subject lately, but since he grew up in upstate New York and is a deeply religious man, with a great love of nature, I suspect that he may be my only ally in my fervent reverence for this particular aspect of creation.
The house I grew up in had a little pond behind it. Well, "pond" might be an exaggeration; my mother referred to it as a broken water pipe and, terrified of drownings, she forbade us from playing near it when it was in its liquid state. The law was waived in the winter, though, when the frogs were silent and the surface of the pond was solid. We were allowed to skate to our hearts' content, and skate we did, every chance we got. When we outgrew the little backyard swamp, my friends and I skated at the golf course at the end of the street and, later, at the local rink.
We never skied; the logistics were just too hard, and, as I mentioned, my mother doesn't actively seek out snow in her limited leisure time. I went to college in the frozen north, though, and one of the first things I did was sign up for skiing lessons. It was hard, but it allowed me to be alone among the trees in the cold, clean air, and I fell in love with it instantly. (I also fell in love with a ski patroller, but that's a story for another post.)
I ended up marrying my ski patroller, and we are raising three great skiers together. I am still in awe of winter and everything that goes with it. I love the exhilaration of the chilled air, the first few flakes that fall, the sleds, the skates, and the skis. I love trudging through the piled-up snow, romping in it with my dogs. I love waking early to the soft scraping sound of the plows on my street and watching, as I sip a hot beverage, while the snow continues to fall. I pray for white Christmases. I knit by the fireplace in my fuzzy slippers until I fall asleep. I have months before I have to worry about what I'll look like in a bathing suit, so I make warm stews and hot bread and drink Scotch whiskey.
I am not insensitive to the plight of people whose travel plans are thwarted by adverse weather conditions, or who shovel snow day after day with an aching back, or who get caught unexpectedly in storms and skid all over the road. All of these things have happened to me at one point or another, too. But winter doesn't last forever, and I try to enjoy it as much as I can. It's part of the cycle of life.