Saturday, January 17, 2009

Wintry Rant

When we launched The Tempest, our tag line included the phrase I've chosen as an entry title. Today, with the temperature in New York struggling towards 7 degrees Fahrenheit (!), is the time for my actual wintry rant.

I hate winter.

I have often wondered why, many centuries past--even millienia past--any sane human, with all the Mediterranean relatively unpopulated (at a time when it is written that even places like Algeria and Libya were flowering), would have ended up in a place like, say, New York. Or Kamchatka. Or, may the gods of Ikea forgive, Sweden. Were they banished by more brutish, beachy types? Was there a shortage of fresh water in overly sunny climes? Or were they tricked into a life in the North by having arrived in summer, only to be trapped by snow and ice--and then decided, perhaps--"Well, the heck with it. It's miserable here, but no one will bother us and there's lots of elk."

By the time the Pilgrims got booted out of England for being too narrowminded, their ending up in a cold place almost made sense as long as you understood they neither had any idea where they were headed nor any reliable navigation. That they washed up on the shore of a place with weather as righteously miserable as Boston was their dumb misfortune. That we have a national holiday more or less celebrating their survival through that first icy winter tells us much about how pathetic was their weather-eye.

I have read where settlers in Canada continually complained to the Crown that it was simply too cold to do anything at all between October and May. We all know this is why Canada had a population of not more than several dozen people even as late as the 1960s.

As for New York: they talk of deep harbors, of strong bedrock for buildings, of its relatively mild climate (ocean-warmed without the gusts) compared with other places at a similarly northern latitude. Whatever. During winter around these parts, you can die out there--say, if your car breaks down in the wrong snowy hollow. Howcome all the settlers didn't just flock to, say, North Carolina--or Miami?

Maybe some folks preferred dressing in moose-skin to sweating like hogs all year--and Miami was even more pestilential then (and in a different way) than it is now. Air-conditioning changed all that--made what were the swamps and deserts of our nation into resorts.

But still--I keep picturing humankind in a younger day, migrating up out of the warm African sun, camping, scantily-clad, near what is now Monte Carlo, building their huts out of bones and skin; and thinking--"gee, I would really love to freeze my ass. I think I'll keep pushing north". It does not add up.