"For the true Southerner, winter is never not a disagreeable surprise."
Gore Vidal, "Lincoln"
I hate winter. Be it long or short - I hate it, and I know I'm not alone.
What's to like? Instead of being outside doing, well, anything, we're huddled in the house around the nearest heat source dreaming dreams of warm weather. After Christmas, there's not a lot to look forward to except cold weather and itchy, wooly clothes.
I've never been a big fan of the season, but my dislike took on a whole new meaning when I spent two years in Maine. If you think winter is a pain here, try spending two years in a place where winter lasts about nine months with two months of summer, one of fall, and then it's right back to the snow.
When I say snow I'm not talking about the light dusting we get around here. No, I mean snow measured in feet. Snow that doesn't melt until the end of winter. Snow piled so high that your driveway becomes a snow tunnel, with the older snow growing progressively darker until the bottom layer appears almost black. So much snow that when it finally melts, the land becomes a heaving sea of mud so deep one cannot walk in it without losing a shoe. Why do you think people wear those ugly L.L. Bean boots? Because they are water/mud proof, and they are strapped to your feet so even the thickest mud cannot dislodge them.
While in Maine I discovered several strange and wondrous things the natives do to cope with the neverending cold. I went to winter carnivals and shivered. I went to motorcycle racing on frozen lakes and shivered. I attempted to cross country ski, which I must say gets you warm because you're working so hard to achieve forward momentum. Alas, I still shivered. All things considered I'd rather be water skiing on a 100-degree day.
I learned to appreciate a warm coat during my sojourn in Maine. I had a coat that covered me from the top of my head to my ankles that was so thick and padded I resembled the Michelin Man. Nothing could penetrate that coat. I also couldn't move my arms and had trouble steering a car, but that was a small price to pay for staying warm.
Not that I drove a lot. Here in the South we, sensibly, stay home when there is snow and ice. In the Northeast, winter driving is just another sport. I remember once taking my courage in hand and attempting to climb a moderate-sized hill coated in snow. As I neared the zenith of the climb, my car lost momentum, and I proceeded to slide all the way back down in a slow-motion horror show that ended with me turned all the way back around and headed in the direction from whence I came. I took that as a sign from God I wasn't supposed to climb that hill and slid back home.
The only good things about living in such a cold place was that for a few years later after I'd moved back South, I didn't need a coat. The other good thing about that cold climate, was the ocean was so cold year-round that the lobster was to die for.
But all things considered, I'd rather just be comfortable and import a lobster.