At the end of last week, we watched the snow melt away and give way to sunshine and temperatures in the 50's. Many people shed their burly winter coats and embraced this balmy break. These were short-lived moments, because lurking just around the corner was our next wave of winter weather. Bam! 6-10 more inches of snow!!!
If you live here in Michigan, you know the joys and pains of our weather. We have the pleasure of 4 seasons with distinctly different sets of weather patterns. One of those seasons seems to last longer than we would like. It's an old, beaten-up subject, but it's got staying power. It's a comfortable, default, ice-breaking topic when you're faced with that awkward silence waiting on line around town. You are sure to relax the tension when you hurl a complaint about our winter's cold temperatures or the snow. Even the most focused or grumpy people will eek out a concurring groan or nod, that they too need a break!
Alas, we fight on. We are weather warriors!!!!
I am a native Detroiter, and have spent my fair share of days layered up, bundled up and huddled up, in an effort to live through our harsher winter days. As a child, I rode the city bus to school and I dreaded standing on the cold pavement at the bus stop. Maybe I didn't have on the best boots and so my feet would become numb from the cold. I would stand on one foot to give the other foot a break, and that dance would go on and on until thank goodness, I could see the bus in the distance. If the cold doesn't drive you to hibernate, the seemingly never-ending number of cloudy, gray days will exact a toll. Can you say "Seasonal Affective Disorder" or the winter blues?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reduces to paper what most of us, on any given day, can speak to with personal and expert knowledge: cloudy days prevail in metro Detroit and gray.... is the new black. NOAA finds that more than half of our days are spent under the gray, gloomy umbrella of a thick cloud cover. The hard facts: we average 185-191 cloudy days per year. That's a lot of clouds. Alright though, who's complaining? We, weather warriors, have to get out and deal with it. I simply say, that all of our extra effort, including loss of sleep due to waking early to commute safely, extra commute time, extra money spent on weatherization and extra repairs of our homes, ourselves and our cars should be taken into account. Yes we need a break, a tax break!!!
It might sound like a stretch to some, but our tax system should be nimble enough to account for what it really takes to "keep up" if you live in the northeastern states. A metro Detroiter's budgetary pie is eaten up by a hefty chunk of costs due to the cold. We spend on:
- Snow blowers
- Warm pajamas
- Tire chains
- Sun lamps
- B12 vitamins
- Lawn sprinkler maintenance
- More gas for idling, (who wants to get out when you wait?)
- Indoor sports and entertainment
- And hot chocolate!!
We all know the list of associated costs could go on and on. Then there are the unquantifiable costs. Consider the following inequities that should be taken into account; while a newly employed 20 something executive wakes up in January in Michigan, she rises baggy-eyed with at least an hour less sleep, in order that she have ample time to shovel out and clean off her car before hitting the slow-moving, icy roadways to work. Sporting her winter boots, while schlepping her office heels and papers in a bag, she makes her way in her tight fitting coat over her suit jacket and quickly tosses off her hairstyle-ruining hat, hoping those few minutes with her hat on from house to car have left her with some semblance of a style. Whew! She's made it. The car is slow to start, but does. Unbeknownst to her, snowflakes that grabbed onto her and her 10 pounds of gear, on the way to the car, are now melting around the edges of her bag, soaking both her report papers and her shoes inside. She jumps in her car, blasts the skin drying heat, bound for the office already feeling a sense of accomplishment about her day.
Over on the West Coast, her 20-something counterpart wakes well rested to sunshine and dry roads. She slips into her flip flops, moving fluidly and unfettered in her blouse and skirt as she heads to her car, briefcase in hand, iPod set to her energizing tunes. She drops the top and lets the breeze dry her hair on her inbound, smoothing sailing commute.
How can that be right!!!??
I have to admit, I have said on occasion, under my breath, alone in a dark room, far away from witnesses, "Why?! Why do we live here!!!?" And then, I get a hold of myself. I cast my eyes on the sparkling snow that fills my walk and driveway, the sun makes a refreshing appearance and I get on with it, fueled by all the people I encounter singing the same battle cry. And how do we get through it? Metro Detroiters, you amaze me. It seems to me there are few ways we make it through:
A.We share this experience with countless numbers of our friends and neighbors, seemingly bolstering our strength to persevere,
B.We find ways to enjoy this unique time in the year. We can't go sledding, skiing or ice-skating outdoors in June, so we bundle up and send our west coast relatives a postcard shot of us next to the biggest snowman they've ever seen. Take that !!!
C.We use this time as an excuse to get cozy. Bottoms up to all the hot chocolate we can drink and all the movies and books we can consume.
D.We look forward to our holidays. These holidays distract us and draw us out of winter caves.
E. We hold on to the notion that our season cycles have never failed us and soon enough this too shall pass and we will appreciate spring more than most.
So, while we are digging out again, why not grab a handful of snow, make a snowball and check your aim. Heck, fall out on your front lawn and make some snow angels. Maybe your friends, family or overly involved neighbors will think you've snapped and send you on a brief, but well deserved, sunny and warm getaway. I'll bet the snow will be right here waiting for you when you get back.
That brings me to another thing.......we?ll talk about that next time.
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