October 25, 2004


Winter is nature's way of saying, "Up yours."

-- Robert Byrne

WE HAVE NOTICED over the past few years that many people, upon learning we originally hail from the fading industrial city of Kalamazoo, Mich., think a result of our upbringing is that we're "used" to New Hampshire winters. We would like to take this opportunity to refute, once and for all, such idle assumptions.

'Cause we ain't used to 'em. Never have been. Never will be. That dog won't hunt, day late and a dollar short, can't get from here to there, nada, no way, No. No, No, No.

For let's face it: winter brings with it disease and misery and inconvenience and physical pain, and we can practically guarantee we shall fall prey to all of these things over the next six months. Certainly the first has already arrived: we are presently fighting something rather awful, a nasty respiratory illness which is clogging our throat and lungs and causing us to ache all over. It's generally a bad sign when one can feel one's lymph nodes, no?

But we are not unused to feeling badly -- our last Gee We Feel 100 Percent Day was in September -- so we can kind of shrug this off. It's the rest of winter's agonies that really get to us, viz.:

* Misery. Remember that episode of "The Twilight Zone" where the Earth gets knocked out of its orbit and the weather changes and everyone goes insane contemplating their impending and inevitable demise? ("Panic? Who's left to panic? Heh. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm told my departure from the script may cause ... hey! Let go of me!")

OK, so we don't suffer anything like that. But still -- on Dec. 21, we here in the city of Manchester will receive all of nine hours and four minutes of daylight. That's it. And this really gets to us; we cannot stand having such little sun. Even worse, we're on the wrong end of the Eastern Time Zone. When we were Back Home Years Ago, the unpleasant winter darkness in morning was offset due to a reasonable sunset time. Here, it's backwards -- it is light when we get up, but the sun sets in the middle of the afternoon. By the time we leave the office it is pitch black. The end result is that we only get direct exposure to the sun during our morning commute.

We are sorry, but these ten minutes do not do it, especially if it's cloudy out. So we go home and turn on the lights and try to avoid sinking into gloom. It's just not a recipe for happiness and good cheer, that's all we're saying.

*Inconvenience. In an amazing stroke of good fortune, the long-range weather forecasts show we are not expected to deal with snow until Nov. 5. This past year, snow first fell on Oct. 23, so we are pleased about this.

Yet we know, deep in our heart, that when November rolls around, there will be much in the way of personal injury and property damage. This is because people forget how to drive when winter starts. They never take it easy and they never go slow and they never allow for extra time to get to their destination. It will happen every place north of the Sun Belt, and we doubt our fair city will be an exception.

But that's just the start of it. For with the snow comes ice and sleet and the Dreaded Wintry Mix. And lo! The people WILL lose much time, and WILL have to get up early to get the driveway plowed. And the COMMUTE will take 35 MINUTES, longer if the people FORGET to buy decent SNOWBRUSHES for their cars. Thus it is written; thus it will be. Kyrie, elesion.

* Physical Pain. But the misery and inconvenience of winter are not the worst things, we think. For we can assure readers that our winters in Michigan pale to New England winters when it comes to cold, wind and general physical hazards.

In Kalamazoo, the most snow that we ever received in a day -- to the best of our memory -- was 13 inches. That was an exceptional occurrence. The coldest it ever got was perhaps 10 to 12 degrees below zero, that during the night. This again was exceptional.

Here in New Hampshire, we routinely receive a foot, a foot-and-a-half, two feet of snow during a good storm. It is relentless. And the cold! Good God! We had several nights down near 20 degrees below zero last winter. And this is southern New Hampshire. Up north, it became so cold that if you wanted your car to start in the morning, you had to keep it running all night.

But what really does it is the wind -- the bone-chilling, awful, miserable wind. It is not Chicago, but it does seem awfully like Ann Arbor, Mich., -- where what got you was not the snow, but the wind chill. The wind here cuts through you like a knife, and we're not looking forward to yet another year of it.

We do believe C.S. Lewis said it best, when he wrote that people didn't so much like winter, they instead liked the feeling of protection from it. We agree. And the way we see it, we can get some pretty good protection down in Miami.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at October 25, 2004 07:53 PM | TrackBack

I must dispute your snow assessment, Senor Kepple. While we may have only had 13 or so in a day, it could do that easily 3 or 4 days a week from December through March. Yes, it isn't as cold, Lake Michigan is good for something besides Warren Dunes State Park. However, I would venture that Kalamazoo gets a great deal more snow in total inches than Mancheztah. You're right though, I forgot how windy A2 is. Remember that time freshman year when we walked from the bus stop at the Chem building to the Red Hawk Grill when it was -40 wind chill? We could go about 10 feet as I recall before we ducked behind a building and prayed for deliverance. Those were the days.....You mentioned it snowed on October 23rd. Did it ever snow on the 12th???????????? (cough cough).

Posted by: simon from jersey at October 26, 2004 10:40 AM

Wow, you make Michigan seem like a tropical paradise. Especially the wrong-end-of-the-time zone stuff. Most everyone here hates the dark; many believe the holidays come along now so the lights can cheer us up. I'm sending this piece to a lot of my friends "not from here." Thanks.

Posted by: marianne from NY at October 26, 2004 03:58 PM