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October 11, 2012 12:34 pm

CULTURE SHOCK: Winter 2012: apply liberally

Written by Dante Geoffrey

The Tribune’s poll question last week asked, “Are you ready for colder temperatures?”

Even though I work at the Tribune, I’m not quite sure what that question is really asking.

Am I ready, as in Boy-Scout-level prepared for the ensuing winter months? Probably not. My car needs some work. I need a heavier rain coat. I have to learn what snow I should and should not eat.

But if the poll is asking if I’m looking forward to the cold, snow and wind then the answer is abso — this is a family paper and I can’t use the word — lutely!

As far as I’m concerned, the more snow the better.

Growing up in Northern California, cold was more of an idea than a reality. We had an understanding of what cold was, mostly from TV and the movies, but we never got the chance to feel cold for ourselves. (Unless you count the cold, dead spot in my heart created by ex-girlfriends.) To give you an idea of what I had to deal with, the low temperature in my hometown of Oakley has been warmer than Powell’s high temperature five of the past seven days.

It would rarely drop below freezing in Oakley, yet my mom was always sure I was going to catch pneumonia if I played out in 65-degree weather for more than five minutes without a jacket.

I’m told that it did actually snow once in Oakley during my childhood. I was probably around 2 years old when it (allegedly) happened, but I have zero recollection of it.

Assuming my mom isn’t a liar, the snow must have been some fluky effect of El Niño, La Niña, Los Lonely Boys or some other ¡crazy! hispanic weather pattern. Either way, it wasn’t something that became a staple of my childhood memories.

My only experience with a real winter occurred in Chicago. I spent 10 days in the windy city during the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010. Temperatures reached as low as six degrees with a wind chill of (approximately) 9,000 below zero.

Going outside felt like walking on an ice-sculpted treadmill placed in a wind tunnel as unqualified libby scientists shot needles through my face.

So naturally, I can’t wait to relive that experience here in Powell. And that’s not sarcasm.

Any day now, I will enjoy the first legitimate snowfall in a place I call home. So please excuse my childish excitement, but what most people here have known since birth is entirely new to me.

And I ask myself, am I ready?

Do I want to wake up one morning to find a snow-laden landscape (parking lot) outside my bedroom window? Do I want to frolic through a snow-white Washington Park? Do I want to burn my tongue with hot cocoa? Do I want to hit a co-worker with a snowball? Do I want to hit them with another snowball immediately after the first? Do I want to use the word “snow” so much even eskimos think I’m overdoing it? Am I 9 years old?


But my visions of a winter wonderland aren’t lined with only hopes and dreams. There are fears, as well.

I know one of my co-workers will end up peer pressuring me into doing some god-awful activity known as “skiing.” Two i’s in a row? Sounds Icelandic, and the only things I trust from Iceland are the music of Sigur Ros and the ridiculousness of Bjork’s dresses.

I’ve been snowboarding once, and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. In high school, my girlfriend at the time (remember the cold, dead heart part?) thought it would be a good idea for the two of us to go snowboarding with four other guys, three of which were her ex-boyfriends.

Cue up Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” for the me-falling, her-exes-saying-stoked-after-doing-backflips, her-playfully-hugging-them-while-I-dejectedly-watch-from-the-bunny-slopes montage.

That day trip ended with my level of anger matched only by my level of soreness — both personal highs.

So snow sports and I didn’t really get off on the right foot, and I’d much rather stay in town and pretend I don’t know how cute I look in a scarf.*

I may not be flying out of control down a mountain this winter, but I’ll get an equivalent adrenaline rush when I see the first snowflake of the season.

You might be bitter about the winter. You probably view it as the same old miserable burden you put up with year after year. But not for me.

So come this winter, when Powell gets blanketed in its first sheet of snow, fight the urge to rush inside. If you’re interested in joining me, I will be found happily gamboling down Bent Street, walking arm-in-arm (briefly) with anyone who makes the mistake of walking too close to me.

Am I delusional? Am I going to catch hypothermia? Am I ready?


*SPOILER: It’s pretty cute.

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