My wife and I recently lost some friends. In an attempt to beat the first snowstorm out of the Salt Lake Valley, Chris and Norm just sold their home. They’re moving to St. George.
No doubt they’ll revel in the snowbird life, walking around half-naked during Christmas and laughing at those of us hacking up our lungs from winter inversions.
For some of you, this is wonderful news. You’ve been counting down the days until you can ski, snowboard, ice skate, and lose physical appendages to frostbite.
For the rest of us, the only good thing about winter is a quick series of holidays of overindulgence. These are bright spots in a gray, otherwise soulless season, when we medicate ourselves with spending, eating and drinking.
Other than that, winter is shoveling snow, slipping on sidewalks, unthawing frozen water pipes, and bashing into the car in front of us because we haven’t figured out how to simultaneously text and drive sideways on ice.
Our negative regard for this time of year notwithstanding, the fact is that we need it. We get a lot of our water in the form of snow. It piles up in the high country, where it waits until the weather warms.
Come spring, the mountains release their glistening snowpack. It rushes down the canyons and subterranean aqueducts to us in the form of splintered skis, beer cans, snowmobile parts, and, of course, lots of badly needed H2O.
So, if it wasn’t for winter, by July we’d be watering yards with our own urine. Golfers would have a particularly tough time. Some would die of dehydration attempting to maintain just the putting greens. The rest would have to take up bowling.
Now that I’ve made the case for winter, allow me to point out that, for most of us, it remains a grim physical and psychological obstacle. It’s something to be endured rather than enjoyed.
I see it coming from my office window. Leaves drip from peach and cherry trees. Aspens bleed doubloons. Autumn is a beautiful time in Utah, but it doesn’t speak to me of pending fun.
To me, fall says it’s time to tune up the snowblower, winterize the truck, bring in the patio furniture, roll up the hoses, stock up supplies, and find my winter clothes. In the back of my mind, an internal thermometer whispers, “Donner Party.”
Thanks to the mind-numbing effects of the internet, I know it’s possible to stay indoors all winter without risking a level of cabin fever that would cause me to chew a leg off the dog or shoot at the neighbors.
At some point, I’ll be ordered outside. My wife will say, “I need to go to the store. Can you clear the driveway?” This is her way of saying, “You’re heavily insured.”
It’s happened every winter. I step onto an icy driveway, and the world immediately goes upside down as my feet shoot back over my shoulders.
I get a clear view of my butt half a second before my spine becomes a sled runner. Last January, I made it all the way from the garage to the middle of the street on just my vertebrae.
Not this year. We have a year’s worth of food in the storage room, high-speed internet, space heaters, blankets, a dog and a rifle.
When the first serious storm howls through the valley, the door gets nailed shut. You won’t see me until May. That’s the plan anyway.