Sunday, February 13, 2011

Is It Spring Yet?

Like everyone except skiers, snowmobilers and other assorted 'hardy' types, I'm looking out the window, watching it snow, groping my way through winter and waiting for the first glimmer of spring.  They say every year in the lead-up to winter that "it's going to be a bad one" and this time the naysayers might just have been right. 

I know, I know; if you live in NY, you have to expect crummy weather about 2/3 of the time anyway but by this point in the year, I've had about enough of the cold.  Nothing against you winter sports people but there's something about volunteering to go out in the snow unless you really have to that doesn't make much sense to me any more.  To each his own I guess but I'd rather be just a tad warmer in my old age.  Wet feet, aching knees and numb fingers have very little appeal to me anymore even if I wanted to tempt the fates and go outside.  Snow shoveling is pretty much my limit and I believe I've also had about enough of that for the year as well.  The driveway will have to melt it's own self 'cause I don't think I'm scraping it by hand again.

I think of the days when I rode a motorcycle almost all year-round and wonder how in hell I ever managed it.  My face would get so cold I thought it would shatter and it took all my upper-body strength just to pull in the clutch.  My leathers froze solid more than once while out riding somewhere in December or January but I rarely surrendered until I couldn't get out of the driveway anymore because of the snowdrifts.  When it really got down there, the old scoot would sometimes give up to the almost-solidified 50 weight oil and refuse to start.  No problem.  I'd jump the thing off the car battery and force it back to life but would I drive the car?  Nope.  Just add more layers and saddle up.  Ahh, to be young and tough.  And stupid, really stupid.
I distinctly remember drafting trucks on the interstate to get out of the wind and sleet riding north from Florida in October once upon a time.  Or hunting desperately for a motel in a New England snowstorm after we got run out of Montpelier Vermont by the local cops (another good story for another day).  New Years day and 15 below was probably the dumbest of moments but getting smacked in the face by an early-spring robin when it was about 25 above hurt the worst.
There's a line between dedicated and idiotic that I crossed repeatedly up 'till about 15 years ago but as time went on, those kinds of escapades made my knees ache for days and bleeding windburn lost a lot of its appeal.  Most times lately I don't even feel like venturing out to my truck to go to work when the temperature is below 30.  I think that's why I put the old Hog on the cover for now...a reminder that shortly after the inevitable season of mud will come a season of warm and I won't feel so much like living under a rock.  We'll ride again but the frost will be out of the ground and the salt off the blacktop before it happens.

The one and only consolation of winter in my opinion is that once in a while, the sun does peek out on a fresh snow and the world actually becomes a postcard place. 

Trust me, it looks a whole lot prettier in the daylight photo than it did when I was trying to drive home at three in the morning.  The snow was much less impressive when it was pitch dark out, the snow was blowing sideways in the wind and even the plow guys hadn't ventured out of their lairs for time-and-a-half yet. The only tracks on the road for the last 15 miles of my commute were my own.
There has to be an end to this.  I get so I'd do anything to see green again and dump the winter gear out of my grip.  I'll hang up the Carhartts and put away the snow shovels soon enough but 'till then, it's still winter out there and the old guy is bundling up for another trip.

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