Warning: this column may cause marital discord.
At least it will in my home.
The idea for this column came to me when my Arizona-bred wife proclaimed with her charmingly delicate forcefulness that she was done with winter. Despite the fact that this last week has been slightly warmer than previous weeks, it’s as if the temperature has dropped for her. The kerosene heater in our living room that supplements the house furnace has been running more hours than usual this week, not less.
Maybe it’s the gray. Maybe it’s the wind. Maybe it’s the cold rain. Or maybe it’s just March.
I know, this is Idaho. You’re not allowed to gripe about the absence of spring until April. It’s in the rule book somewhere. But the fact remains that in other more southerly parts of America spring is already well-sprung. We get Facebook posts from friends and family who can’t help being a little smug about the spring flower bouquets they just collected from their soft, loamy gardens.
Meanwhile, March in Idaho offends on two fronts: the stubbornly low temperatures, and the ever-growing distance between March and, say, last September, which, in my wife’s view, was the last time it was halfway decent around here.
Actually, I’m on her side on the length of winter argument. March should be a hopeful month; a shake the snow and dust off your t-shirts kind of month. March should be when you can actually put your shorts back on, as long as you’re only going to run over to Walmart and back.
But personally, I’m okay with winter. Snow, in its way, is drop dead beautiful. Although, just like plastic surgery, it can be overdone. (I’m talkin’ about you, 2016.)
But come on—isn’t a bundled-up walk through Ketchum on a winter night under a steady gentle snowfall a great way to spend an evening? Skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling: they all have their place.
Even shoveling the driveway is okay once in a while.
So, yeah, I’m fine with winter. I’m even willing to give it the time it deserves. Twelve months, four seasons, three months per season. Three months of winter works fine for me. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow—as long as the daffodils are doing their thing by March.
Oh wait. I guess that works in Utah. It sure doesn’t work in Idaho.
So I understand why for some the winter blues may be worse in March than in January.
And for the record, my wife does not share my tolerance for winter in any way, shape or flurry. She likes her winter to arrive in postcard scenes and Christmas card covers while sitting on the back porch in shorts, sipping lemonade.
Well, those of you who are lifelong Idahoans may look down your noses at her, but I don’t. Because I’ve known too many Idaho natives who also loathe our winters. They get through them because it’s their home and all, but that doesn’t mean they don’t silently, or noisily, long for tank tops in January.
So here’s the point: years ago the Huston clan moved to Erie, Pennsylvania, a city that makes southern Idaho look Bahama-ish. Before we dived into our first winter there I asked a friend how the locals survived the annual onslaught of blizzards and ice. His words have always stuck with me.
“You have to embrace winter if you’re going to survive here,” he said. “If you try to hide from it, it’ll kill you.”
Somber words, but true. Winter has its beauty and majesty, but it comes with claws. You can live in it, and even enjoy it, but you have to keep your guard up and your armor on.
And after awhile you just get tired of all the fuss.
So here’s to my wife, and everyone like her, who grudgingly tolerates the winters of Idaho to be able to enjoy the joy of our springs, summers, and autumns.
But by March, I think we’re all about done with winter. The only problem is that winter, as usual, isn’t done with us.