Yo, Winter, What Else You Got?

This past weekend was the first official weekend of fall. Being a lover of summer, by now I’m usually wringing my hands, bemoaning its loss as if it were mine alone, and annoying all my friends about how much I hate the transition from summer to fall. As if they haven’t heard this from me for the past ten, 20, and god bless them, 30 years. This year? I’m good, and I’m not sure why. I think part of this anomaly is that we actually got to have a bona fide summer here in New England. Not the half-assed one where June is cold and rainy, we get six-weeks of mostly sun and swampy humidity from mid-July to the end of August with temperatures from 80 to 100 degrees, and then the 50-degree days swoop in on August 30. That’s our usual good summer, which explains a certain amount of our lack of friendliness. This year, June was warm and sunny, followed by sun and warmth and more sun and warmth. Through July, August, all the way until last week. Into September. I was still wearing sun dresses up until a week ago. Around here, that’s some crazy shit.

It was kind of shocking, all of this summer, but because I’m a Leo, I knew exactly what to do. I summered the hell out of this summer. Beaching, swimming, canoeing, jumping off high rocks, parading around Provincetown. There was actually enough summer to go around this year, so I’m OK letting it go.

I think the other reason I can say goodbye more easily is because I survived the worst winter since I came to Boston in 1983. And yes, it was worse than the Blizzard of ’78. I experienced that one in Connecticut, and it was bad there too; there and here it is the measuring stick of worst. ’78 was one really awful snowstorm that people weren’t prepared for, and it shut everything down for about a week. Last winter we were shut down on a weekly basis, three times in a month, and received nearly double our usual annual snow fall. It seemed to push a lot of people over the edge—the people who usually joke about moving south for the winter were diligently checking job and real estate listings in the South and on the West Coast.

Me? Two things happened after last winter:

First, I never took this summer for granted. In fact, I’m marveling that the trees are still green and am trying to burn the image into my retinas. Usually by early July, I forget winter ever happened, and trip along as if it will be summer forever. Hence, the hand-wringing in September.

Second, last winter ignited some hard-core New Englander reaction in me. I do pride myself on being a New Englander, but let’s face it, as far as nature toughness, I live in Boston, not the wilds of Maine. So I lean more towards, the crabby, I-hate-California kind of New England “tough.”  In the depths of storm three, though, there was already two feet of snow on the ground and shoveling involved being able to toss it high enough or walk far enough to find an emptier space to dump it. And lots of people were giving up, but I got pissed. And tough. And I took each shovel full and said a silent eff you to winter with every calorie-burning toss. I drove in the crazy snow-clogged, one-lane roads, dodging oncoming cars and potholes that could swallow a Hummer. I slogged through the snow-choked sidewalks and knee-deep puddles. I didn’t leave my house when the T stopped running. I laughed. I knew I would win.

Any of my friends could tell you this is so not me. But it is now.

Fall is coming, the air is crisp, and the leaves will turn. Snow is stalking me, but I’m not afraid. I got my shovel, my snow melt, and the best weapon of all, New England resiliency with a side of Bostonian attitude. Bring it, Winter. I’m fixin’ for a wicked good fight.

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