Stepper Vs. The Snow

First Snow Storm in Washington Heights! Atop the Boulder of Bennett Avenue (Fort Tryon Park)

I am unprepared for winter.

This has never happened to me, before. In the past, when the snows came (even when they came early, not in the ripe old month of November!) all it took was finding a certain box in my closet, and voila! Warm clothes for everyone!

This time, there was no box.

When we moved here, I hadn't exactly packed for Winter. Thanks to generous grandparents and a killer sale at Target, the kids are fairly equipped with coats and gloves and boots. Bill and I, on the other hand, own one hoodie each.

I at least have the rubber rain boots. Not so much my man!

During hurricane Sandy, we all hunkered at home. It was warm and cozy enough, and we didn't venture out into the elements. So my denial remained alive and well. Everyone has been telling me that New York winters are something else. A dry-cold Utah girl couldn't know what was coming. The cold was bitter.

I would nod and smile, grateful for the warning, but in the secret parts of my head I'd think - please. I'm a creature of the winter. I was born into the flurries of snow. Cold doesn't bother me. Heat does. And your New York summer nearly killed me. Bring on the winter, sister!

But I wasn't born into flurries of snow.

I was born into a nice warm hospital where I was saved from the initial shock of the cold dry world by many hands wrapping layers of warm blankets around me, and pulling a cap down over my wrinkly little head. turns out it's very, very true. The humid cold of New York is very different from the dry cold I'm used to. A dry cold you can keep out with the simple application of a coat and a scarf.

A humid cold?

It finds it's way through all your little cracks down to your very bones.

So yesterday, when the kids and I found ourselves faced with the long walk home from play group through biting winds and whipping snow, I discovered what it meant to be unprepared for Winter.

The kids had their coats/gloves/hoods. And an easy ride atop (or beneath) the stroller.

I had my cotton hoodie which had soaked through on our way TO playgroup in the less presuming rain.

The cold found me fast, needled through me and latched on. I still haven't warmed up.

I have never been so wimpy from the cold. Suddenly I understood my friends who were always freezing during winter time back home. I understood why it made them miserable. I understood why it was so hard to escape it once it got to you. I understood that it was mean and nasty and delighted in the personal suffering of young and vulnerable girls.

(32 is still young. Shut up.)

I literally ran through the blizzard - but realized fast that I just wasn't going to make it. My very bones ached with the cold. It was clawing at me, mentally. I had to escape...just for a moment...escape the angry cold...somewhere it couldn't find me...couldn't touch poor innocent children and their renegade mother...

We ducked into McDonalds. One of my mortal enemies. But I had a greater enemy on this day.

After a blissful half an hour of warmth amidst the hostility of a New York McDonalds and the kids were thoroughly chicken-nuggeted up, we wrapped ourselves up and braced against the cold and again took off through the streets. it!

In a last second decision, I swerved us into the warmth and welcome of Ali's store. Whenever we go into Newspaper Chips, the kids are allowed to pick out a bag of chips. I told them when we first entered, "no chips this time! We're getting milk and that's it. Don't even get comfortable!" I felt the needled claws of the Cold loose their grip on my spine. The kids looked up at me, confused.

"Why not, Mom?"

I had no retort. All I had was icicle fingers that were beginning the painful process of thawing. "Okay, fine. But you have to choose from the 25 cent kinds, and ABSOLUTELY NO CHEETOS!"

Ah, compromise.

I handed Ali my credit card, and he looked at me with disarming earnestness and said, "You going to be okay? Look!" and he gestured with his arm toward all of outside. My gaze followed, and I cringed against the massive wet snowflakes that were being blown in crazy circles by that blasted mocking wind.

I smiled. "We aren't far. We'll be fine."

"But..." he said, stepping out from behind his counter and gesturing helplessly at my kids, " are sure? You could stay...see if it gets better."

I shook my head. No. this wasn't getting better. It was getting worse. And I wasn't going to let it beat me. I was a WINTER CHILD - born two days shy of Christmas! Snow was supposed to be on MY SIDE. "We can do it." I said, trying to sound convincing. "We're fine. We'll be fine."

"How far?"

"Only about ten blocks that way."

Later, I'd think about that and realize it was really only about five blocks. But it sure felt like it was still a long way off!

Ali held the door open for us, and we bolted into the street. I ran, and the wind howled, and the snow splattered down on us, making Henry chatter and Daphne giggle. My hands froze in gripping shape around the handle of the stroller, and my feet obediently kept the pace I set. I hadn't worn my rain boots. I had worn my running shoes. With the air ventilation. My socks were wet and frozen. My toes were numb except when they hit the pavement and exploded into little silver points of pain.

"Almost there!" I yelled over my pounding heart.

The kids didn't care. They had suckers from Ali and they had snow!

I just had a self-sorry feeling for having to always be the one to deal with the consequences of things like suckers in small, sticky hands (while wearing brand new coats) and wet strollers and shoes that were about to go into my clean, dry house.

By the time I got everyone out of their drenched outerwear and their hands and faces cleaned, I was ready to swordfight the snow. My mortal enemy. Oh, the betrayal was bitter. How could it turn on me like that? How could it be!

I grumped and grumbled, thinking about all the lovely warm coats I have locked in a storage unit in American Fork, Utah. I had scarves! Hats, GLOVES. I had long socks in that storage unit!

Okay, so. Winter in New York. You all warned me it was intense. I thought I knew better.

This weekend, dudes. This will be the weekend of coats, boots, wool socks and warm quilts to cover small sleeping bodies in chilly apartment rooms.

Because the idea of being stuck inside all winter long is utterly terrifying to me. I need the freedom of the sidewalk! I need to be able to walk to the church without having to stop to hide several times en route! I need that more than I need warm bones.

Winter - we shall be friends again.


Tamsin North said...

I was mentally knitting for you the whole time.

Charms said...

... And now I need some cocoa. You are such a stinkin good writer....

Janey - UtValleyFoodie said...

My only experience of my 4 months in the Northeast is the COLD. I went from St. George to their coldest Winter in 22 years. I wore long johns, jeans, AND snow pants, 2 pairs of wool socks, cotton gloves underneath snow mittens, winter hats, and at least 4 shirts/sweaters, plus a coat, and the cold still creeped it's way in! I believe you and feel for you.

Amy said...

The only thing that warms me up after Midwestern cold (Chicago & Detroit) is to soak my feet in hot water. Good luck! And editor on the long Johns under everything!