Snowfall

Snowfall mutes the world. It dulls the machinescape that is modern life, even in a small town. It makes familiar places foreign while softening rough edges and concealing the ugly and the industrial.

Walking through the snow is at once a return home, and a journey to a new frontier. Blanketed in austere sameness, old favorite trails become the haunts of frigid spirits, repetitive mazes where it could be all too easy to become lost. In the loneliness of snowfall, you can say words aloud that you never have before, and the wind carries them between towering pines, and they are lost.

Snow-covered New England Village

Quaint snow-covered villages are a New England specialty, and also its chief export commodity. If you buy yours from elsewhere, expect the same plastic seams as a bootleg Ninja Turtle.

When the snow falls, I am like a spy in a foreign country. Everyone cries out against the tyranny of snow—it makes us shovel, it makes us cold, we must clear our cars, we hate it, we hate it—but I am at home under the rule of snow. When the foreigners around me decry the snow, call for its execution under the rays of the spring sun, I halfheartedly raise a fist. “Grrr… snow. Yeah, down with snow. Or something. I guess.”
Unless I’m in the mood for a conversation. Unless I have the energy for a conversation.

* * *

Would you like to join a secret club? There aren’t many of us. No matter the differences in age or opinions or any trait you can think of, we are bonded by a love of the cold. There is an instant kinship between those of us who come alive when the world is frozen; when everyone else complains about roads and gloomy skies, the two people who say, “I like the cold,” and “same here,” know that they are kindred spirits. And they can laugh about how people are always telling them to put a jacket on.

* * *

Frozen didn’t convey the same sense of wintery-ness that I felt reading The Snow Queen as a kid. But it was a good piece of pro-snow propaganda, and I liked the parts where no one wore jackets when they probably should have. I got through one July reading A Dance With Dragons by George R. R. Martin and fervently telling myself, “Winter is coming. Winter is coming. Winter is coming.” And then it kind of didn’t.

* * *

Anyway, it’s in the mid to high seventies outside now, and that’s about all I can take.

Why summer is almost worth it

This gallery contains 4 photos.

I have survived the dangers of Labor Day*, and summer is unofficially over. Today, as planned, I will write about the aspects of summer that make the heat a little bit less like a demonic torment upon your very soul almost worth it. If you recall, I originally had the idea for this single post back in early July, but instead wrote a weekly series about how awful summer is. Fresh produce While I have a couple of dedicated vegetable haters in my life, basically everyone else loves fresh produce. … Continue reading

Melted dreams and other objects

You've fought the good fight, window fan.

You’ve fought the good fight, window fan.

I wrote this post earlier in the summer, but held it back because August was so cool. But now that it’s September and summer has returned to toy with us some more, I have decided to call it out on some of the things it’s done. Here is a melodramatic list of things that melt in summer and ruin my life.

  • Coconut oil deodorant, because I am a hippie. My deodorant is made of cornstarch, baking soda, and coconut oil, a substance which melts at 76 degrees and then needs to be stirred.
  • Shoes, when placed in close proximity to a summer campfire. Before the invention of vulcanized rubber, sneakers melted on hot days. We’ve come a long way, but fire still beats sneaker.
  • Skin, from my thigh, when backed into a summer grilling apparatus.
  • Chocolate, when left in my car, a thing which is fine to do at sane times of the year.
  • Ice, from my iced coffee. Even if I made it strong (and you can bet I did) it will devolve to an unacceptable level of wateriness before I am through drinking it.
  • Ice cream. Eating ice cream could easily have gone in the post about summer activities that are better in winter. You mean I have 30 seconds to eat this before it’s just milk and corn syrup? It’s like defusing a bomb.
  • Crayons, when left in the car. Sure, they look cool all blended together, but sometimes I want to draw things that don’t look like an acid trip, and I can’t do that with 64 colors which have digivolved into MegaCrayonmon.

This should be the penultimate post of Humidfest 2014.  Maybe I’ll write some more if the heat continues into September, but at that point I think I’d need to change the name to GlobalWarmingFest.

Here’s a recap of the earlier posts in the series:

Awful features of cookouts

Cookouts are a hotbed of danger, awkwardness, and yard games. It’s bad enough trying to sit comfortably at a sun-baked picnic table splattered in bird shit, but really, that’s only the beginning. With Labor Day in just two days, I figured that the penultimate entry of Humidfest 2014 would be an opportune time to discuss some of the unsavory qualities of outdoor barbecues.

A lake!

You are in less danger from the many drunken boaters on this lake than you are from every single thing that happens at a cookout.

Purposely attracting yellow jackets

Soda is a mandatory part of every barbecue ever. This is stupid, because it attracts yellow jerkbags jackets to the picnic table, placing everyone in grave danger.  Bumble bees and honey bees are just in it for the pollen. Yellow jackets are like the asshole Aqualish in the Mos Eisley Cantina who picks a fight with Luke Skywalker for no damn reason. Or, because fighting. Basically, the fact that they were in the same location is enough. Either way, Obi Wan Kenobi slices his arm off, and it’s all good. Unfortunately, I live in Massachusetts, and there is no Obi Wan Kenobi here to come kill the yellow jackets with his lightsaber. So, it’s only common sense not to have soda at a picnic, when you don’t have a Jedi to defend you from the consequences.

Potato salad roulette

Unless it’s garlicky, olive oil-soaked Italian potato salad, potato salad is something that mostly sucks anyway. So that’s already a strike against both it and summer, which is when it comes out of hibernation to give us salmonella.  Enter potato salad roulette. How long has it been out? Are you willing to risk it? YOUR LIFE IS ON THE LINE.

Undercooked hamburgers

When meat is ground, the bacteria sitting on the outside mixes with everything else in squishy meat curls. That means that the inside of a hamburger needs to be cooked to well done. No, it’s not 1000% percent definite that someone will get food poisoning if they eat a bit of meat that’s still pink. But is it worth the risk? Not really, in my book, and I happen to prefer my burgers blackened anyway.

Most of the cookouts I’ve been to in the last two years have had undercooked hamburgers. And not all cooked by the same person either. There have been four culprits. If I so much as mention that the meat is undercooked, I’m told it’s ok, and I’m over worrying. It’s like being the only person in a movie who sees the whole conspiracy, and everyone is just trying to silence me.

Volleyball

Gym class volleyball always turned me into an exemplary Apathetic Loner Girl, Daria style. In my eyes, the other kids didn’t seem to grasp that there was no reason to get excited over, or invested in the outcome of the game. To me, it was perfectly acceptable to watch the ball fly by instead of bothering to try hitting it. The gym teachers didn’t care, but my team mates were not cool with this, and they let me know. With gusto. Or zest. Also, yelling.

Volleyball went from a slightly fun game that I had no enthusiasm for, to something more akin to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Plus, it’s not something I want to attempt while suffering the consequences of potato salad roulette.

Oppressive heat oppressing us

Last week was a busy week, so my previous update to Humidfest 2014 was two weeks ago. In that last Humidfest 2014 post, I wrote about summer activities that are actually better in winter. There is a whole other category of activities that are not only better in winter, but that the tyrannical oppressor of Hot Weather makes impossible this time of year. Here are some of the ones that I miss the most.

Thai red lentil curry

You’re the one I miss most of all.

Eating soup

Soup is one of the best food-forms in existence. Delicious umami slurpiness with chunks of whatever vegetables, meat, or noodly goodness your heart desires. I know gazpacho exists, and it’s a summer soup, but it doesn’t make up for the loss of every other kind of soup. Sausage and kale. Chili. Pho. Tortellini. Red Lentil Thai Chili.

Sleep

This one seems like it should be obvious, but apparently 72 degrees Fahrenheit is the national average room temperature. This probably explains a lot of culture-level problems. Obesity epidemic? How could anyone do anything BUT eat corn chips and watch TV with lethargy-producing 72 degree air lulling them into a fog? Kids are underperforming on standardizing tests? Maybe if the school’s thermostat weren’t sending them mixed messages they’d do ok.

I always find that anything over 70 indoors makes me start to nod off, and yet, I can’t actually sleep at that temperature.

Do things at home

Maybe I’m unique in this one because my air conditioner is a lazy piece of crap that won’t exert the effort to cool my entire apartment, which is small enough that my air conditioner has made itself an embarrassment to its species by not cooling it. Yes, I have personified my air conditioner. How could it be my nemesis if it were just a badly designed appliance?

Drink hot cocoa

I am apparently considered a good cook, but really, I’m mostly good at picking out recipes. I am not the cook in my household, and I’m extremely slow at chopping things.

But.

My hot cocoa is amazing. And I like experimenting with different kinds. In eighth grade, we had an assignment to demonstrate to the class how to do something. I taught my english class how to make peppermint hot cocoa with peppermint patties. A few of my classmates came up to me the next week to tell me that the cocoa was amazing! The best ever! Had changed their life and now they were going to quit middle school and LIVE, dammit!

I got a bad grade on that project because instead of bringing in a microwave and cooking the cocoa right then and there, I typed instructions and brought in the ingredients to show everyone. Yes, my language arts teacher apparently expected a scrawny eigth grader to carry an entire microwave to school, on the bus and everything, because “It would have been better if you had made the cocoa in class.”

Eh, fuck it. I’m making cocoa tonight anyway.

Summer activities that are better in the cold

Laments about how short summer is are a common thing at this time of year. Hitting the beginning of August means that this dreadful time of year only lasts for another month. Lucky for us, the actual equinox doesn’t get a damn say in this. Summer ends when the mustard-stained labor day paper goods are thrown in the trash, and we all know it. There also seems to be some sort of summer-guilt brought on by not doing enough summery things. I don’t have the emotion of summer-guilt, but I can understand because that’s how I feel about fall.

No one needs to experience summer-guilt at all. As it turns out, a large number of common summer activities are superior in cold weather.

Running and hiking

Running in the summer, I am one with my environment, in the sense that my environment is a foul terrarium of pervasive humidity, and I am a sticky, sweaty humidity-wraith. No skin, no bones, only sweat and unhappiness.

Running in the winter, I am alive and joyful. Pushing myself through exhilarating cold, muscles pumping, the cold is manageable as long as I don’t stop. Plus, no one thinks you’re a badass if you go running in the summer. You’re a just a runner. But running in zero degree weather? Viking level badass points.

Hiking is the same deal, with one added benefit. In the summer, the trails fill up with people. Winter scares them off, and you can enjoy nature in all its frigid, austere beauty.

Kayaks on a beach

The birth of an armada.

Kayaking

Kayaking is easily one of the top things that makes summer bareable for me. I get the same exhilaration powering through choppy waters that I do running in the snow. Even in the summer. In fall, the waters are calmer. Jet-skiers have given up until next year. Autumn leaves ring the lakes, and reflect off glassy-smooth surfaces. Wood fire smoke fills the air.

Getting married

After physical activity, the worst way to exacerbate the heat is to dress poorly. All formal wear in existence is the epitome of dressing poorly for summer. Most people want their friends and family to be happy for them on their wedding day, not resentful of their life choices because of easily avoided discomfort.

Years ago, I went to a December wedding. The couple played Christmas music at the reception. Cupcakes with mountains of snowy white frosting were topped with candy snowflakes. The bride wore a hooded wedding cape over her dress. How cool is that? And it could never happen in the summer.

Wearing white

It’s not just at weddings. Wearing white, in general, is a lot cooler looking in the winter. This is coming from someone who hates to wear white. Imperious ice queens. The white witch. Princess Leia on Hoth. Actually, all I can think of here are female royals. But no one pulls off white like they do.

Star gazing

Ever notice how much clearer the night sky is in winter? Cold air can’t retain as much moisture, therefore you don’t have to squint up at the stars through a veil of humidity. Perfect clarity.