In the lane, (g-d d-mn) snow is glistenin’

Lynx in the snow, by Raymond Barlow (raymondbarlow.com)
“More of this stuff? Really?!”
I understand why it’s confusing. I love Christmas music. Not just like it, I love it. I have 30-some different versions of “White Christmas” on my iPhone right now, for goodness sake! I hate hot weather. I gripe about the heat when the temperature is barely high enough for my friends from California or Arizona to think about t-shirts. I write Christmas ghost stories, every year for newrly two-decades, now. I often illustrate blog posts with pictures of lynxes, which often include snow.

So I totally understand why some of my long distance friends don’t understand just how much I despise snow. I hate snow. I have said many times that if I never have to walk in snow ever again—even if I live to be a million years old—I would be just fine.

Part of the reason I hate snow is because I lived with it all the time when I was younger. Growing up in the central Rocky Mountain states, usually living at elevations more than a mile above sea level, I know snow very well. Most of my Halloween memories as a child involve trudging through substantial depths of snow to go trick or treating, for instance. And I recall a number of Junes where there was at least one night we were out putting sacks over and straw around the plants in the garden because the temps were forecast to slip below freezing that night.

One of my childhood chores in winter time was to unreel an extension cord out to Mom’s car early every morning to plug in the engine block heater so the car would start later. Of course, before I did that, I had to check the thermometer mounted to the wall outside the front door, if the temperature was more than about 5 degrees below zero, I needed to unreel two cords, because at those lower termperatures, sometimes Dad’s pickup wouldn’t start without pre-warming the engine block.

I still have nightmares of crawling around under a new house inspecting the pipes and applying heat tapes and fibre glass insulation. It was hours crawling around in a tiny space, a lot of my body in constant contact with the cold ground. I don’t remember how cold it was that day. Contributing to the awfulness of that day was the fact that I was doing most of the chore by myself because my dad was too hung over (which meant at random intervals he would stick his head under and yell at me).

Another contributing factor to a lot of my feelings about cold weather and snow was that for some reason dad wouldn’t let me own thermal underwear. Seriously, there was an incident when I was, I think 10? Mom bought thermal underwear for me and my sister, and Dad went ballistic. I think ultimately the rant was because the amount of money mom spent for school clothes was higher than he’d expected, but there had been yelling about how he hadn’t needed thermal underwear when he was a kid, because kids just played in the snow, they didn’t have to work in the cold. If it was that cold we should stop being idiots playing and come inside.

The rant went on and on. The upshot was that once I outgrew that pair of thermal underwear, I didn’t own any again until the first winter after my parents separated, when I was 15 years old.

Which gets me back to being a 12- or 13-year-old scooting and crawling around on frozen ground, under a house in freezing weather, frequently having to take my gloves off because they were too bulky to do what I needed to do, getting yelled at at random, and knowing that if I screwed this up and any pipes froze and burst, this would all be my fault. The yelling I was receiving would be nothing compared to what would happen in that event.

(And before you ask: the reason I was crawling around under the house after the outside temps had already dropped to freezing, instead of before? Dad hadn’t gotten around to it because it was still October and “there’s time to get to it.”)

I don’t have flashbacks to that day every time I see snow. I’m not claiming that snow is a trigger or anything like that. I just have a whole lot more unpleasant memories associated with the cold and walking in snow than happy ones. After my parents divorce was final, and Mom, myself, and my older sister moved to the Pacific Northwest, I really enjoyed getting through a winter seeing almost no snow. Cold and rainy was a lot easier to deal with.

I also understand that many years living in a climate where we don’t get much snow has more sharply focused my unpleasant memories of snow. when we do get snow, it’s usually sleet and snow or snow with roads that re-ice themselves faster than they can be plowed. All living in a city whose geography (lots of steep hills, narrow, winding roads, squeezing between a lot of bodies of water) makes every snow event a catastrophe.

I agree that snow is pretty. I even admit that watching snow come down, when I am safely ensconced inside in comfy clothes with a hot beverage, and no obligations to try to get anywhere can be very relaxing. I will even admit to enjoying being out in the snow in the right circumstances with the right companions.

I know that snow can be fun. I know that a lot of people love it. I’m less likely to get snarly about it now that I have a job that makes it so very easy to work from home (though that just makes me fret about other people who don’t have that luxury). And I know I shouldn’t snarl at the people who ask me about it. Because I don’t hate people who like the snow.

I just hate the snow itself.

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