Sunday, February 7, 2010

AAAAAAGH! (Richmond, VA)

A. calls to try to convince me that the snowy landscape is beautiful. I remain unconvinced. It would be beautiful if I could escape it, or better yet, if it were where it belongs -- up north.

The world is twisted, topsy-turvy. Here in the Mid-Atlantic, in Virginia, in Richmond, former capital of the Confederacy and the northernmost of southern states, snow persists in falling. It's going to be 9 degrees F tonight.

In the meantime, Vancouver braces for a lack of white powder, facing the prospect of an un-wintery Olympics. Polar bears are losing habitat because their glacial homes are melting. Why not load this still pristine snow blanket onto a caravan of trucks and send it all where it's needed?

I feel as I did when I was a child leaving food on my plate. "There are children starving in China," my mother would say. The one time I suggested mailing them what I had before me was one of the few times my mother slapped me across the face.

The snow offers a constant admonition: No, you can't work. No, you can't drive. No, everything is closed. Even the bloody post office, which promises to defy rain, sleet, and other weather, has thrown in the towel.

Okay, I could put on the knee-high rubber boots I recently purchased at the children's resale shop. I could jam my body, already layered with thermal underwear and three sweaters, into my winter coat. I could pull on two more pairs of socks, pull up the hood, wrap a scarf twice around my turtle neck, force fingers into two pairs of gloves, and waddle out into this silent, alien world. I could, but I won't.

Growing up in New York, I'd enjoyed winter: throwing snowballs, building igloos and forts, sledding. But the last time I willingly wandered out into a winter wonderland was in college.

My fellow students and I were returning from Boston when a huge storm hit and raged. We didn't see the "Road Closed" sign that we plowed into and we couldn't have turned around if we'd wanted to. We couldn't see the road ahead or the road behind. Couldn't see the road, period and two days later, the car was discovered about 20 feet from the roadway. We had abandoned the unheated VW bug after we ran into a pile of snow and couldn't extradite the vehicle, when we'd run out of clothes to wrap around us, when one of the boys kept falling asleep, and we couldn't slap him awake anymore.

A dim beam in the valley guided us to slide down the mountainside and knock on a stranger's door. As I thawed out, sitting on top of a blazing radiator in the farmer's living room in the middle of Nowhere, Snowbelt, New York, my hands, ashy and stiff, throbbed with pain.

I attempted sleeping that night on a cot in the dining room, but two sadistic tabbies used me as a trampoline -- jumping on my head and running the length of my body -- until long after the sun rose. I think it was then that I lost any fondness I might have felt towards felines and any desire to spend any time in any place where I might encounter ice and snow. And my hands have never recovered; they ache and numb at the first sensation of cold.

So, even A. can't tempt me to go outside to admire the whiteness much less to play. I will stay inside, reading books, sleeping, complaining bitterly about the bitter cold, waiting for the thaw.

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