It’s winter in these northeastern United States. Real winter. Record-low temperatures (the high today was 14˚(F)) have frozen the whole world here. Our tidal, ever-moving Hudson River stands as still and solid as an iceberg beneath a meager sun–it’s tepid glow doing little to melt the ice covered roads. Trees creak and whine in an unabating wind, their sap fixed in capillaries, transforming usually supple branches into stiff and unbending limbs.
I’m numb from the cold, too. And tired. And, quite frankly, a little bit cross. Everything takes so much longer when there’s snow covering the ground and the air is tinged with a windchill of -24˚(F). I did the math on the taking longer thing today and can document that it me took 37 extra minutes to take on and take off clothes. Boots. Scarves. Socks. Earmuffs. Slippers. Piles and piles of fleece. And that’s not counting the extra 15 minutes it took to warm up the car. Or the three extra walks I had to take the dog on because he’ll only stay out in this ridiculous cold for six minutes at a time and he still has to poop and pee the regular amount.
But who am I to complain? Isn’t this what I signed up for when I chose to live in upstate New York? By staying here? I don’t think I get to grumble now, just because we’re having the kind of winter my parents (who grew up here) remember having every year when they were young.
This endless cold has gotten me thinking about one of the challenges you face when you decide to Stay in a place. (Or in a relationship. Or a job.) Eventually, the warts of the thing become unavoidable. You can no longer turn away from them. And then you have to decide to either accept the damn cold (or the lack of chemistry, or the boss with the very bad breath) and hunker down and hope the dose of Compound W freezes the damn thing off…or what? You move? (Leave the marriage? Quit the job?)
I hate being cold. I HATE IT. But right now I hate the idea of leaving this place even more. Part of the reason that spring and summer here are so majestic is BECAUSE of their impermanence. Because I know that they won’t be sticking around here for long. In this latitude we get used to getting used to something new every four months or so. The river changes. And the leaves. And our shoes.
Any decision to Stay could change, of course–maybe one day the cold weather here will just become too much and I’ll buy that ticket to Kauai and never look back. But for now, I’m comforted in knowing that, not too long from now, there will be an evening much like this one when I’ll be sitting at this same desk, sipping from this same mug, looking out this same window and telling you it’s 88 degrees in the shade.
Besides, it’s supposed to be 40˚ on Saturday.