Friday, February 28, 2014

In my day, we had winters that....


This morning I got on Amazon to check my affiliate stats for the day before as I usually do while I'm eating breakfast. Before clicking through to my account, though, I saw an advertisement for swim trunks, and thought: "I need some new swim trunks"––the last pair I bought at an H&M in Austria fit me at the time, but since 2009, either they've stretched, or I got skinnier, which has led to some obvious problems.

Soon, I found myself scrolling through pages of swimsuits pondering the same question Adam did when he took the fruit from Eve's hand and bit it: Board-shorts, trunks or racing jammers (briefs should never be a consideration) and wondering what would be most comfortable for a long day at the beach.

Then I wondered something else: Why am I looking at this now?

I'm sitting in front to the computer, in a sweatshirt, flannels and skullcap, two feet from a space heater, and still shivering. It's about 10°F outside, and in all likelihood, it will be another month and a half before any of the snow that's clogging my driveway melts, and another two months after that before I feel like getting anywhere near any body of water for 200 miles.

Obviously, it has been a hard winter. Even the crankiest old people I know who are usually inclined to say: "In my day, we had winters that were..." now admit to that fact.

We've had snow-cover consistently since before Thanksgiving. I've lost count of the number times it's been bad enough to not be able to drive, and while we certainly haven't had the deepest one-time accumulations I can remember, this one wins for sheer relentlessness.

It usually gets cold up here in the hills, but it used to always be a novelty when the mercury actually dropped below zero without factoring in windchill. Something that happened a couple times a year. Not this winter. It seems like most mornings I go out to start my car it's in the single digits or worse. It's got to the point where the other day I turned it on, read 13°F on the flickering dashboard display and thought: "Well that's nice," with complete sincerity.

On a national scale:

Heating propane has reached a record high, and even regular natural gas has hit the highest level since the fracking boom in 2008, prompting calls for emergency FERC intervention to divert more fuel north.

Meanwhile in the south, civil infrastructure has been stretched to the breaking point, snow related car accidents have skyrocketed, and Lowe's is actually considering selling snow shovels.

Okay, I made the last one up.

On a personal scale:

I flew off the road for the first time in my life.

The pipes in my room froze. Twice.

The propane furnace in my parent's house that I live in by myself malfunctioned and filled the entire building with gas before dying completely and leaving me to heat the entire building with a wood stove (with which I'm lucky to keep it above 55 on the worse days).

I've 1) become something of a master at getting cars unstuck from snowdrifts with nothing but a shovel, and 2) nearly set my clutch on fire more times than I can recall.

Don't get me wrong with all this. I really like winter, and snow, and cold and all that. I like it until about January, and this year was no exception.

Now, though... now I'm browsing the men's swimwear section of Amazon for no logical reason at all.

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