Goodbye to winter
About a week ago, I started wearing my spring jacket.
At the time, this sartorial choice made sense.
It had warmed up considerably. The sun was out. When I went for a walk, I broke out in a sweat and ended up tying my jacket around my waist and rolling up my sleeves. I turned off my heat, and celebrated the end of winter.
I wasn’t alone.
While walking last weekend, I ran into my friend Bruce and his mother, who were on the way to Peebles Island State Park, and my landlord, who was on her way down to the Corning Preserve. I walked through Lincoln Park in Albany, which was filled with Easter eggs for the coming hunt. I passed joggers, bikers and tourists taking in Empire State Plaza. All in all, it was a lovely day.
But my end-of-winter celebration appears to have been premature.
The first day of April felt more like February — blustery and bitter and raw. Every time I stepped outside, I shivered. Part of the problem was my refusal to hang up my spring jacket and put my winter coat back on, and to retrieve my hat from the car and put it on my head. I couldn’t bring myself to do either of these things. To don my winter clothes would have felt like defeat. Instead, I continued dressing in spring attire, hoping that the weather would adjust itself accordingly.
On one of my wintry walks, I realized I was behaving like my friend Leigh Anne in Birmingham, Ala.
“It’s so cold out,” she remarked, as we walked to her car one unusually chilly evening. I nodded: It was cold. But then I glanced at her outfit. “If you’re so cold, why don’t you wear a jacket?” I asked. “I don’t wear jackets,” she explained. “I’m from the South.”
At the time, I thought this was ridiculous.
But last week I finally understood where Leigh Anne was coming from — that she knew it would get warmer and regarded buying a whole new wardrobe as a waste of money. Which is sort of how I feel about buying an air conditioner. There’s always one week during the summer where an air conditioner would be really nice, but then temperatures drop and life returns to normal.
I’m writing this column on Tuesday, but I’ve glanced at the weather forecast and I know that the weekend is expected to be much warmer, with temperatures in the upper 50s.
I also know that on Friday my vacation starts, and that I am driving south, with stops in Virginia, North Carolina and Alabama, where temperatures will be in the mid-70s. My Southern friends keep making inquiries about what I want to do on my visit, and my answer is pretty simple: “Hang out. Go outside. Wear sandals.”
Before I leave, one of my big tasks is to make sure I’ve packed appropriate clothing.
For months, I’ve been wearing sweaters, jeans and sneakers. But those clothes won’t be suitable once I get to the Deep South. I’ll bring a few warmer items so I can sit outside in the evening and not catch a chill, but what I’ll really need are shorts and T-shirts. I’m expecting it to feel like summer by the time I reach Alabama. Hopefully I won’t be disappointed.
In a typical year, the cold spring weather in the Capital Region would be a cause for depression.
But I know I’m going away, so I’ve managed to remain relatively upbeat.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed winter’s final gasps, which enabled me to get in some late-season cross-country skiing and play the highly entertaining game snowquet — a version of croquet invented by my friend’s 12-year-old son that involves navigating a snowy course.
Many of my Southern friends don’t understand the appeal of winter. When I lived in Alabama, I often tried to make the case for having four distinct seasons. Winter helped you appreciate summer, I said. It was preferable to the South’s sweltering summer temperatures. It could be pretty, as well as fun, if you enjoyed outdoor sports and games such as sledding and skiing.
Needless to say, nobody ever bought what I was selling.
They didn’t see the appeal of dressing in layers, or waiting for a cold car to warm up, or shoveling. Not to mention wearing a jacket.
And I can’t say I blame them.
Now that it’s April, winter has officially worn out its welcome, and I’m ready to be done with it.
I’m ready to dress more lightly and take advantage of the longer days. I’m ready to hike and bike and maybe even start running. I’m ready to stop paying for heat.
So I’m leaving, and by the time I get back, I expect winter to be a thing of the past.
Because if it isn’t, I’m going to get really depressed.
Foss Forward makes a weekly appearance in print, in The Gazette’s Saturday Lifestyles section. You can email Sara at firstname.lastname@example.org.