There are some people who look forward to winter. This type of cold weather folk can’t wait for the first report of powdery snow on their favorite slope so they can dress in thermal finery and ascend a mountain where, once at the summit, strap 2x4s to there frozen feet and hurl themselves off risking broken bones and frostbite. The roaring fire and a tankard of IPA in the lodge are the perfect end to a thrilling day of cheating death. In my past, ski resorts were a great gig for a cover band, good money and dinner show hours. But it was always cold and, since I consider anything below 60 F freezing, I never looked forward to Vermont in January. When I lived in New York, I could tolerate winter only because inclement weather was an excuse to stay inside and I could dry my towels on the radiator.
Now that I live within spitting distance of Mexico, I can’t complain about frigid weather too much or use it as justification for being lazy. Except when it is really, really frigid. When the mercury plummets to 18 F and icy precipitation creates a clear candy shell on sidewalks and statues in the Northeast people shrug it off as another nasty day. In the South, those conditions create a sort of surreal pandemonium. You may recall one such day in 2021 when an arctic blast shut Houston down for a week and Gulf beaches were polluted with the carcasses of sea life. It was almost Biblical.
Here is one man’s account in verse form:
Twenty pelicans sail by in jagged formation. The beach is lead and mist. Wind whips the crispy, brown fronds of tropical transplants; victims of the big freeze. Just like the fish that washed ashore to ferment On the sand stinking surströmming. A feast for gulls who turn up their snobbish beaks Preferring purloined corn chips and french fries. The grackles laugh. They are amused by everything: Death Pelicans struggling against a squall Broken glass in a hopping man’s bare foot I get the joke, too. Fish don’t wear sweaters Idiots don’t wear shoes And palms should not wander too far North of Bogotá. But laughing at a pelican is just plain cruel.