There’s a winter storm travelling up the East Coast this weekend. Because I was raised in NYC and now live in Hawai’i, I am listening to people’s comments about the storm and am curious about our overall relationship to weather and how it impacts our character.

As with all children (I tend to shy away from generalizations, but I think this one is pretty safe), I adored the snow. Even when it almost instantaneously turns to slush as is wont to happen in NYC. All those pedestrians, dogs, taxis and buses – it really can’t be helped. But there is always Central Park. It is beautiful here in all seasons; but after a significant snow fall, it is simply magical. Children don their snowsuits and mittens; parents stop at Starbucks’s to tank up; and all gather at the sledding hills and snowman fields, transforming the park into a winter wonderland.

During my young adult years, I lived in various parts of the country, all experiencing four seasons and all accustomed to significant snow accumulation. My last stop before Hawai’i was a seventeen-year stint in Montana. You’ve most likely heard it referred to as “Big Sky Country.” Ha! “Big Dumps of Snow All Year Long” is more like it! And of course this is terrific for skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and those of that ilk. But for many of us, who only dabbled occasionally in winter sports, the romance with snow’s ever presence soon lost its luster.

At some point during my Montana tenure, my relationship with winter shifted from enjoying the snow to braving the snow. I began to see my winter living conditions as more character building than pleasure enhancing. Reasons for my resistance piled up like the snowdrifts engulfing me. The childlike enchantment with those crystalline droplets morphed into adult depression over sky-rocketing heating bills. (The native term “Big Sky” actually refers to our monthly utility bill, just so you know.)

Losing the last of my innocence, I realized I had to create some kind of justification for remaining in a climate and culture that was no longer compatible with my inner child. For a long while, the best I could do was to deploy a variation of the tactic my mother had heavily relied on when I would whine about some pain or upset – “Offer it up to the poor souls in purgatory.” I simply acknowledged that living in frigid conditions eight months out of the year was my version of cross training for the soul and left it at that.

Once reaching middle age, I conceded that I had had enough. I exhausted every route I could think of that would trick my mind into believing that braving the snow was making me into a better person. There was no further valor to be won by snow shoveling or driving on black ice without a spin-out. My lifelong partnership with winter was reaching its finale. We ended on amicable terms. I agreed to visit when nostalgia got the better of me and Old Man Winter agreed never again to freeze my plumbing.

It’s been over five years since leaving the tundra. (My ex-husband still drives a Tundra; he swears by his truck and 4-wheel drive - no surprise why that marriage ended also.) I now believe it’s possible to cultivate one’s nature amidst less challenging weather conditions. I can wear shorts everyday if I choose and no longer fear devolving into a shameless sloth. Too bad the Puritans never made it to the South for some R & R – what a difference that could have made!

After this weekend’s blizzard has been cleaned up and all has been accounted for, I wonder how many Easterners will also reconsider their misguided beliefs around weather and its character-enhancing properties. Maybe we can put that myth to bed and pack up our parkas once and for all. Life does not need to be hard in order for us to be good. And for everyone who truly loves the snow without complaint - shovel on, my friends; shovel on!

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