Plight of the Would-Be Snowbird

My sister and brother-in-law just got back a brief vacation in Florida. They said that whenever they were asked where they were from and they responded, “New Hampshire,” the other people, subtly flaunting their bronzed shoulders and flip flops, would pause and say, “Ooooohhh,” as if it was the most terrible thing to imagine.

The northeast has just been pounded by snow and cold this winter. Just when we think each major storm might be our last, we get another anticipated 4-6 inches that turns into 14. Even the deer who had been venturing out of the deep woods to the edge of our house to find the holly bushes, their last food standing, have not been seen nor heard from in weeks.

As we slide into March, it looks a bit promising—the  coming week’s forecast shows a minor winter weather advisory tomorrow—freezing rain—but then almost six straight “partly cloudy” days. But it’s all a tease. When I carefully studied the daily temperature, I saw that after Saturday’s high of 43 degrees Fahrenheit, it will drop daily to 37, 27, 25, 17, and 13 degrees, with a grand conclusion next Saturday, March 1: 17 degrees, 80 percent chance of snow.

It’s like sinking into a deep depression. All you can do is vaguely remember being poolside with an umbrella drink.

If nothing else, it gives us something to talk about. A friend said when she first moved here from Canada, she was amazed at how the media could take a simple day-long winter storm and turn it into a dramatic story for a week. “In Canada,” she said, “nobody talks about these things—it’s no big deal.” Here in the U.S., they’ve started naming our storms—and that’s just so we have someone to blame.

This is a big deal to a native Californian like me who can’t get up my New Hampshire driveway because of complex layering of ice and snow. Sure, sand can periodically be helpful, but it’s difficult to actually spread it because the sand is frozen in the trash barrels at those key points next to the driveway (the worse the storm, the more frozen it is). I have had to return a rental car or two for work because I actually couldn’t get up my driveway, and I refused to rent a car for a week if it means trudging down the long, snow-filled path every day with my laptop bag, projector bag, easels, and flip charts. (I don’t want to end up in the hospital!)

And, it was traumatic last weekend when one of our cars ended up completely off that driveway, parallel to the road, stuck in a snowbank-ditch leaning against a tree (yes, that car was driven by an anonymous member in our family under the age of 20, but do I really blame him or her based on the conditions?). AAA had to come out not just once or twice, but three times before they could actually get it out because of the shape and slope of the driveway and the angle of the car. In the end, they needed two trucks to get it out—one for the front and one for the back (fortunately, I didn’t have to have two memberships to cover that).

Some people, mostly those die-hard skiers and snowmobilers, love the snow. Not me—I’m a tennis player who happens to like warmth. I lose feeling in my fingers and toes if I am out in freezing temperatures too long and I get cold-induced hives on my face. And I don’t like having to take heavy duty Vitamin D in the winter because the only sun we get filters through snow-lined branches and most of us just don’t hang out on the sidewalk in these conditions.

I enjoy sitting on our front patio with a glass of Pinot Grigio at dusk, dipping baby carrots in hummus, and enjoying the feel of the sun on my skin. Right now, I’d have to be in snow pants to do that (not to mention that our patio furniture has been tucked away in the shed for winter for months, so I’d have to sit on the ground, which we already determined is frozen).

Yesterday, my brother-in-law showed me a YouTube video of his model John Deere tractor with its 59-inch snow blower (yes, he actually showed me such a video, saying “There’s nothing like that sound of snow churning—look at how fast that thing moves! We can do our road in three passes!”).

This is the kind of thing we are left to talk about. I said to a friend the other day, “I said I was finished with winter but apparently I did not tell the right person!”

Mother Nature, God, Buddha, Oh Supreme Weather Being in the Sky, here’s my final plea: Help us. Soon. Or I really will have to become a snowbird.

And I’m still too young for that.