Last autumn, when I moved to Boston, I was convinced that I was fully prepared for the cold weather. Bold words from a girl who’d spend the previous two decades baking like a lizard on a rock in the Las Vegas desert – but how hard could it really be? I had a scarf, a double-breasted wool coat, and even bought my first boots. Piece of cake, right?
Plus, as a lifelong snow-fetishist, I figured my obsessive re-watching of holiday movies would stand me in good stead. Everything I needed to know about snow, I learned from Hollywood: snow angels, snowplows, the occasional well-intentioned snowball fight. If it gets too cold, find a handsome stranger to sip cocoa with in front of a fireplace. If it gets really cold, hunt a grizzly bear, slit it open and crawl inside for warmth.
Yeah. Clearly I was well prepared. Here are a few of the rudest lessons I learned during my first real winter:
Turns out cold isn’t just a state of mind. You know that old adage, “Dress for the job you want?” That may be a brilliant idea, but dressing for the weather you want is institutional-grade lunacy. And to think I learned that after only two months of going tights-less under skirts, then thawing my thighs with a hair dryer when I got home.
Penguins walk that way for a reason. I knew that people wore boots for warmth, but after the first flakes last season, I decided to brave the weather and run to the laundromat down the street in my flipflops, despite the sidewalks being frosted with two inches of snow. Turns out boots have one other distinct advantage over sandals: traction. Snow is slippery!
One day of winter wonderland; one week of dreary brown slush. The only consolation: naked wintry tree limbs weighed down by a sparkling blanket of frost never cease to be delightful. Of course, while you’re looking up to admire them, you’ll inevitably step knee-deep in a pile of industrial-grey slush.
All that pretty snow is eventually going to turn back into, uh, water. The first time I went out in a snowstorm and watched pedestrians wielding umbrellas, I thought they were tragically confused. Cue me, half an hour in my heated office later, looking like I’d just been caught in a summer monsoon.
Even with its annoyances and brutality, man, the movies just don’t do it justice. Sure, the weather might be freezing the tears in your eyes and the snot in your nose, but dang, when Mother Nature aims to dazzle, she doesn’t disappoint.
I blame Hollywood for these failings. We never saw Jimmy Stewart faceplant in on a slippery sidewalk and sprain his pinky! Of course, he was also smart enough not to wear flip flops in 19-degree Fahrenheit weather – something that, if the past few wintry weeks are any indication, this West Coaster still isn’t smart enough to figure out.
“Snow Storm” The Skinny Boy’s Photo Stream @ Flickr.com Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.