A Mid-Atlantic resident virtually all of my life, I can’t quite just dial-up delivery of a white Christmas, but is it too much to ask that it be cool enough on Christmas Eve so as to mandate riding to mom’s with my Jeep Wrangler top up? I haven’t heard yet where this December ranks among the warmest in Washington history, but I’m pretty sure I don’t need to. It’s simply unacceptable. If I want windbreakers and Bermuda shorts on Christmas, I’ll move to the Carolinas.
Meanwhile, to listen to the cable news talking heads these days, all is woe for the hearty residents of Denver, CO. They’ve had to shovel lots of snow this month. Two doozies of snowstorms, fairly close together, have hit them. Imagine living in or near the Rocky Mountains and having to shovel snow!
This is not a treatise on global warming-vs.-cyclical warming and cooling periods. I have an opinion on the matter, but all that’s germane here is that I’m miserable and there’s nothing Alexander Ovechkin can do about it, much less Bob Ryan.
You see, it’s important in winter to have winter. When we don’t, it seems to me, we’re doubly reminded that “Washington isn’t a hockey town.” But for me there’s additional angst: I suffer from acute seasonal affective disorder — just not the kind commonly alluded to. I actually get grumpy when the mercury reaches 40 any time in December. And when the television weatherwrongs and their anchor colleagues gloat and cackle over our Haiti-like holidays, I actually wanna sock ’em in the jaw.
Why are they gleeful over aberational conditions? Are they anti-sledding? Anti-shinny? Don’t they know that it’s scientifically established fact that ice skating dates featuring hand holding and foot rubbing are 47 times more romantic than movie theater outings? Don’t they know that Washington is genuinely one of the most beautiful cities on the planet under a fresh blanket of snow?
By now you know that the Caps practiced outdoors here recently. The wonder is that they didn’t drown.
It wasn’t always this way here, you know. Time was, in my early youth, when hard freeezes often set in solidly before December; you go back to the 1970s in these parts and you can recover accounts of folks skating the C&O Canal not long after Thanksgiving — once in a while, even before. A native Washingtonian, I was raised to appreciate the change in seasons. Now, though, I’m not noticing much change. We seem to transition merely from temperate to scalding hot.
And it’s that trial of Washington in late June, July, and August that makes this Danielle Briere winter all the more maddening to me. I walk most days to my neighborhood Metro station, a jaunt of nearly 30 minutes, and in our oven summers I try and depart before the sun rises to scorch our skin. As I walk, praying for aiding breeze (that hardly ever comes), I preoccupy my thoughts with images of an Ice Age in D.C. I actually delight in the fact that on my August walks to work I’m literally the only Washingtonian deep in thought about Zambonis and ice rink warming rooms and whether the summer’s softer ice of my Northern Virginia beer league means I should adjust the hollow on my blades from 5/16 to 3/8 of an inch.
It’s not that I don’t like Ocean City in the summer — I quite do — it’s just that to get through summer here in the city I often have to think about the Rimouski Oceanic. If there is reincarnation, I want to come back as Mr. Freeze.
This will definitely come as news to our newsmen and women in town, but cold hard freezes — even prolonged ones — are actually good for nature and good for the human beings living in them. Freezes kill molds and bacteria, and Washington ranks among the worst of allergy regions. As our winters have Carolina-ed area allergists have made a killing. But in defending winter, I’ve long made an even more basic argument: in deep chill one can always add layers and bring aid to one’s discomfort, but in our Code Red malaise, who wants to snuggle?
I guess what has me so upset is that more folks around here aren’t upset like me. I’ll tell you how bad it’s gotten for me: in my mother’s home on Christmas I logged on to her computer, went to Yahoo’s home page and of course was instantly confronted by the worrisome weather data for D.C. So I switched the locale for my Yahoo page, seeking an injection of vicarious winter at Christmas. I chose Winnipeg.
It was a balmy 17 degrees there then.