Can Spring Be Far Behind? Please?


January 16, 1994|By BRIAN SULLAM

I have had enough of this winter.

I am tired of scraping snow and ice from my car windows.

I am tired of shoveling my front walk every morning.

I am tired of slipping and falling when I step outside my front door.

I am tired of driving on slick roads with other motorists who drive too fast on icy roads or too slow on snow-covered hills.

I am tired of driving around in a car that is coated with a film of salt, dirt and other road crud.

I am tired of walking through parking lots and sidewalks full of dirty, slushy snow.

I am tired of having cold feet and frozen ears.

I am tired of looking at the calendar and counting the days that remain until the first day of spring.

Usually when I get in this mood, it is mid-February. But the horrendous weather of the past three weeks is bringing on a premature longing for the hot, sweltering days of summer.

One of my colleagues says she loves the winter. On most subjects, this woman has reasonable opinions. But on the subject of winter, her opinions are totally off-base.

(When I told her that I would be ridiculing her about her love for winter, she promised to get back at me this summer. "When my allergies start acting up and my complexion breaks out, I am going to give it back to you in kind," she thundered.)

She loves the crystallized look of ice-encapsulated trees, the crunch of snow underfoot and the bright blue hues of a clear January sky.

I must admit I love to look at the trees covered with ice, but I don't like when those ice-laden branches fall on the utility wires and cut off the electricity, phone and cable television service.

As for the crunch underfoot, I never seem to experience it, particularly in this region. More often than not, I seem to step into deep puddles of liquefied snow that seep into my supposedly waterproof shoes.

Even if I wear my insulated high-top L. L. Bean boots, I always end up with cold feet when I walk outside for any length of time.

Despite my best efforts, I seem to always miss the spectacular January sky that so captivates my colleague.

When I am lucky enough to see the sky during daylight hours, most of the time I see a depressing gray monotone. When I leave the office in the evening, the sky is a stygian black. About the only things I see in the sky are drops of rain, sleet, freezing rain or snow.

Winter not only assaults the senses, it is life-threatening. Look at all the people who die from the flu, automobile accidents and house fires during December, January and February. It is a well-established scientific fact that more elderly people die during the winter than during the other seasons.

Older people don't migrate to Florida and Arizona for the comfort of warm weather and the plentiful supply of citrus fruit. They are ++ making a conscious effort to extend their lives by avoiding the harsh conditions of winter weather.

In fact, I have always questioned the accuracy of including our latitude in the so-called temperate zone. When I attended elementary school in Honolulu, I never understood how any place could be temperate if you needed bundles of clothing during the winter months and air-conditioning during the summer months.

I still think my childhood insights are valid. Temperate climates are ones where you can wear cotton clothing during the day and bTC put on a jacket at night to ward off the cold. I dare anyone to don such attire now.

Despite all my carping about winter, I know we have it pretty easy.

Last week I called some friends in Montana. They have been experiencing their normal winter. The temperature has dropped as low as 20 degrees below zero on a couple of nights. On some days, the wind has been so fierce that they have been unable to leave their house.

I am also glad I don't live in Boston. My brother, who took a break from their arctic winter last week by visiting Baltimore, told me to stop complaining.

While it only takes minutes to shovel my walk and scrape my car windows clean, he told me that it took him two hours to dig his car out from the three feet of snow they had last week.

I have tried to take vacations to tropical places to break up the winter, but I never seem to time them right. While I am gone, the weather warms up.

I remember one year in college, a friend and I drove south to Florida after first semester exams. The weather there was colder than usual and we spent most of our time shivering on the beach. Meanwhile, up in Baltimore, the temperature was unseasonably warm. Friends who stayed on campus said it was warm enough to sunbathe.

Last year, we took a trip to Hawaii during the Christmas holidays. On the day we returned to Maryland, the temperature dropped into the teens and the oil burner in our house broke. I was ready to hop the next plane to anywhere in the tropics.

My wife claims that my disposition would change if I bought one of those bright lights scientists have developed for people who get depressed during winter.

Actually, as much as I hate to admit it, taking the light treatment might marginally improve my disposition.

However, the feel of those artificial lights is a weak substitute for the warmth and radiant heat that comes from real sunlight.

Only 64 days until the start of spring.

It can't come too soon.

Brian Sullam is The Baltimore Sun's editorial writer in Carroll County.

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