Winter Survival Tactics

Summer is definitely here in Maryland, so let's talk about some cool topics: like sledding!

Both the Mrs. and I come from northern climes, where sledding is an essential part or growing up.  You aren't really a northerner unless you can reach adulthood without at least one sledding related injury.  I have a theory that one of the reasons northerners drive so much better in the snow isn't just that they have more experience.  It's also that the some of the novelty of traveling at high speeds with little or no control has worn off.  I sometimes get the impression that the guy in the Humvee sliding sideways down the freeway is going "Weeeee!"  

When I was growing up, I would occasionally hear adults complaining about the snow.  This was very confusing to me.  How could anyone be unhappy about about the funnest form of precipitation ever?  When you got tired up sledding (if you can imagine such a thing), go build a snow fort.  When that's done, pelt your little brother with snowballs.  In later years, the equipment got more sophisticated, and cross country skiing, snowshoeing and ice diving was added to the mix.  I resolved then and there that I would never complain just because my grown-up chores got a bit less convenient. 

My first job was on the NY/Quebec border.  Winters were, well, cold.  Coworkers from the south typically didn't last beyond a few winters.  In talking to them, I came to realize while they complained about the cold, that wasn't the real problem.  Instead, they lacked a critical life skill that made it possible to survive a long winter with your sanity intact.  The simple fact was that they didn't know what to do with themselves.  Snow was just that stuff you had to shovel, or meant you had to come up with some last minute childcare arrangement.  At the first sign of white on the ground, they would bolt the doors, close the blinds, turn up the heat, put on Jimmy Buffett, and hide under the sheets saying "My isn't it warm.  My isn't it warm.  My isn't it warm." 

The locals, on the other hand, would pull out their sleds, tobogans, tip-ups and snowshoes.  We'd be waxing our skiis in anticipation.  (No, that's not a euphamism.) We'd been waiting for this all fall!  Winter wasn't an ordeal placed in front of us that we had to mearly survive.  It was a magic, ever-changing festival of activities. 

It wasn't that we had thicker blood (whatever that means).  We knew that there were some forms of fun that required a few more layers.  In the south, your clothing is pretty much independent of the physical activity.  Playing softball?  T-shirt and shorts.  Pick-up basketball game? T-shirt and shorts.  going to the local rock-climbing gym? T-shirt and shorts.  Cross country skiing to the head of the Hudson River?  You're going to need enough synthetic fibers to keep a refinery in business for a day.  Or, for the crunchy crowd, about two and a half flock-years worth of wool.  We may have looked like a tire/marshmallow corporate logo hybrid, but we were warm. 

If you've read my post about hiring a portable mill, you'll know that our little snow event this spring caused a bit of a delay.  You've probably figured out by now that in spite of the disruption of our plans, we didn't start cursing the snow.  Quite the contrary, we found other outlets.

Some was aerobic
Some was just for fun.

And some was both. 

Side note:
     I heard a lot of people complaining about the enormous amount of federal funds that were wasted when the government shut down for a week.  All I can say is that none of the federal employees I know (and that's quite a few) are going to get a 1/52 reduction in the workload they're expected to have done before their next performance review.  If they weren't doing paperwork at home that week, they'll be putting in some night and weekend hours throughout the year to hit their targets.  In some cases (and yes, I've seen this happen multiple times) they'll take a vacation day, and then hide in their office to catch up.  Forcing a million snow driving novices to learn together on the beltway would have made great pay per view, bit it would not have made good governance.