I’m Not Holding My Breath


It’s been a particularly warm winter here in the Houston area, a time when it’s not unusual at all to see folks walking around in shorts and flip flops in the middle of February. We’ve had a few cold fronts here and there but mostly the heavy coats have gathered dust in the closet. A warm jacket can last for years in this area because it is so rarely used. It’s more likely that a coat will dry rot than wear out from overuse. Some folks love our temperate climate but I prefer to have temperatures frigid enough to use my fireplace, wear my flannel pajamas and bundle up with a muffler and gloves. So far traditional winter is a bust here.

Snow is an oddity in my neck of the woods. Those of us who live here remember the exact dates of such occurrences when we rushed out to make tiny snowmen even if there was only a smidgen of the white stuff sticking to the ground. The mere sight of white flakes floating in the air creates so much excitement here that students disregard rules and rush to the windows to witness an event that is so rare. We dream of having a white Christmas or making snow angels in January, but we know not to hold out too much hope that our wishes will come true. We have to travel to colder climes to satisfy our desire for walking in a winter wonderland.

If I saw white stuff coming from the sky I would suspect that pollen was descending upon us early. We get our share of that in both the spring and the fall. We have a preponderance of allergies so much so that a doctor once told me that I have the “Houston nose.” When I asked him what that meant he explained that my nasal cavities bore the scars of countless sinus infections brought on by allergens in the air. I worry more about the fact that nothing has frozen the plants or the mosquitoes than the coronavirus. I suspect that we are all in for a world of hurt come spring and summer. A nice cold snap sometimes mitigates the problems with pollen and such but so far everything is blooming as though we are a tropical paradise.

We’ve had more dust blow in from Africa over the years than snow. Now and again everything left outside is dusted with a fine mist of dirt. We don’t need ice scrapers or snow plows but hoses and blowers always come in handy. This year I’ve had to fight the dust on furniture with a vengeance, something that is not nearly as bad in colder weather.

My daughters both lived in the upper midwest for a time. They had to invest of things like waterproof boots, heavy coats, warm hats, and snow shovels. My husband and I once purchased a snow shovel while we were visiting up there just for the novelty. It came in handy for shoveling the leaves that littered our driveway each fall. It worked like a charm and our neighbors wanted to know where we had found such an oddity for clearing the mess from our trees. They were shocked to learn that our nifty device was intended for snow. Many of them had never before seen such a wondrous object.

One year I won an ice scraper at a white elephant Christmas party at school. I had no idea what it was for. I showed it to a number of people who were as baffled as I was. I finally found my answer from a friend who had grown up in Michigan. Sadly I gave it to Goodwill thinking that I would never have a use for it. Lo and behold there was a hard freeze that winter that left the windshield of my car with a thick coat of ice. I wasn’t sure how I was going to remove the offending crystals because I had heard on the news that I should not pour hot water on the glass. An ingenious neighbor made a makeshift scraper out of cardboard and I followed suit. Once I got to school all of the transplanted northerners were happy to accommodate me with the equipment that they brought with them when they moved down south.

We get snowbirds around here, folks who come to visit the area for the winter. I know a number of people who are now retired who have a winter home here and a summer home where there are cooler days in the hot months. It’s a nice way to live if you can afford it but most of us are stuck in one environment or another.

I can’t imagine purposely running away from the cold. I’ve always imagined that I would enjoy several months of snow and ice, but those who have endured it assure me that I would soon grow weary of snow mixed with dirt that becomes a brackish gray from all of the people walking or driving over it. They complain about the short days that grow dark at three in the afternoon and the dreariness that feels endless. When we are watching nature burst forth in blooms in March they still have the possibility of snow and many more weeks of cold.

I suppose that the grass is always greener, or in my case whiter, somewhere else and I should just be satisfied with the weather that I have. Still a lovely white carpet of snow once in a blue moon would be nice. Cold days with soup simmering on the stove would be wonderful. An opportunity to wear my coat would make me happy. I’m still hoping for a snowy day, but I won’t hold my breath.


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