Roger Marolt: Happy as a Who down in Whoville about winter … almost
Who hates winter. It makes sense. He was a ballplayer, not a skier. He played first base. What was a teammate. … Ah, never mind. Even as The Fall Classic is nearly upon us on this eve of the ski season, I can’t make that old Abbot & Costello baseball bit fit here.
But, I do know how Who feels. Up until about a week ago I thought I hated winter. Hey, I was a ballplayer, too. Who knew Who and I had these things in common?
I had my first ski dream of the season the other night and it was a good one. I was slaying something steep and the snow was deep. I was gasping for air between turns, constantly wiping face shots off my goggles. I could practically taste the snow. The powder was so bottomless it felt like I was skiing in sand. The next thing I knew, the snow melting down my back turned to perspiration on my brow. That’s just the way my ski dreams work. The ski clothes were gone. I was sitting on my deck in my underwear, not winter long johns mind you, drinking an ice cold beer while watching the sunset as the green leaves rustled in a warm breeze. It was almost midnight.
I woke with a start, freezing cold, in the pitch black bedroom. My watch was peeping. It was six in the morning. It had only felt like midnight. I was so bummed. Was it because I thought I wouldn’t see a great powder day soon? It couldn’t have been. I’ve been around long enough to know winter will be here before we get the garden hoses rolled up and patio furniture put away. It was because it was time to wake up and it was as dark as if I slept in a tomb.
It reminded me that, if I wanted a nice bratwurst while watching the game tonight, I would be grilling it in the dark, too. It reminded me I wouldn’t see summer again for a very long, long time. It reminded me that I haven’t hiked, or biked, or run around shirtless enough. I will miss mowing the lawn. If that isn’t a cry for help, I don’t know what is. It sure seemed like I hated winter.
I closed my eyes to reflect and there was no recognizable difference in the black that already filled the room. However, after my attitude adjusted a little, I saw a light at the end of the snow cave through this blizzard of blahs. The dream was a great revelation. Things were not how they appeared. I finally understood that I don’t hate winter, after all! Nobody can have such an incredible dream about something they hate. I love skiing. What I hate is the darkness. I loathe the low angle of the sun, not winter. Winter just happens to thrive in the absence of light; not that I’m comparing winter to cockroaches.
I am going to be brutally honest. My former hatred of winter led me to some awful fantasies about global warming. As a fan of science, I was never close to being a climate change denier. It was far worse than that. At times, during the sled dog days of January, I secretly became a greenhouse gas encourager. I know, it’s awful, but hopefully admitting this is the beginning of the healing. While principle and courtesy prevented me from letting my own car idle while I ran into the post office, I never looked askance at the guy with the Hummer who did. I started to view the gas pedal as a sort of thermostat control switch. I was discouraged by news that the average global temperature had only risen by about 1.5 degrees Celsius in the past four decades. How could this meaningfully shorten winter in my lifetime?
I am admitting this because it is important to understand how a solar-powered human being runs. Sunshine renews me. Sweat encourages me. Call me green.
So, where does my recent ski dream leave me? For starters, I now know I am not a skier who hates winter. It is not cold air that I despise. I feel I can now look objectively at snow shoveling and find a positive way to work it into my fitness regime, ditto with scraping ice off my windshield for increasing flexibility and honing fine motor skills. This all adds up to great relief. Simply knowing that it is darkness that sours my attitude allows me stop treating winter as the enemy dumping the the seasonal burden into my psychological recycling bin. It’s a start at giving winter a fair shake and judging it on its own merits. Just make sure to leave the lights on for me.
Roger Marolt has seen the darkness. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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