Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ennui, or an open letter to winter

Dear Winter,

Let us begin with a short film:

February is the month that I most often feel a sense of overwhelming boredom and restlessness with the world or as the French would say "ennui." Henri seems to get my feelings and so I share his first film here. I tried explaining Henri and ennui to a co-worker recently and it didn't work out so well. It's possible he was really cold and couldn't focus on what I was saying. Too many layers make it impossible to hear things clearly.

Winter, what is it about February that makes life so difficult? Why is is such a drag? Is it because a little groundhog "predicted" that we'd have six more weeks of winter (which by the way we'd have even if he didn't see his shadow because that's how calendars work)? Is it the lack of sunshine and vitamin D that your perpetual gray skies block? Is it the frigid, frigid cold winds that you believe we deserve? Or is the mountains of snow and the sheets of ice that you fling about this country like confetti?

I get it - seasons are how nature works. I live in a place that experiences all of the seasons so I am prepared to be cold and experience snow a few times during your yearly reign. But seriously Winter, below zero temperatures in Northern Virginia for multiple days in a row? Temperatures that don't get about 10 for more than a week? Snow squalls on a Saturday night? Why have you sent Minnesota to us? What did the people of the DMV do to make you so angry? Wasn't the polar vortex of 2014 enough of a punishment for whatever slight we have committed? My poor plastic dinosaurs had to find refuge in my scarf yesterday. That is just sad.

You have a lot going for you so I'm not sure why you have to make it so difficult for us to like you. Think of all the positive things we associate with colder weather:
  • cozy sweaters
  • flannel sheets
  • Peppermint Mochas
  • hot chocolate
  • a nice hot toddy
  • the warm glow of a fire
  • Christmas
  • scarves
  • binge watching television shows on a snow day
  • snow days
  • sledding
  • other activities outdoorsy people enjoy
  • mittens (especially if kittens are wearing them)
  • boots 
It's even a thing now to name winter storms like we do hurricanes. Granted the names are sort of lame but it's something. It should make you feel special and appreciated. Doesn't the love affair that Jim Cantore has with thundersnow count for anything?

Let's come to an agreement today about how the rest of the season is going to work. I think you'll find that I'm a reasonable person who just wants to be a smidge warmer until Spring arrives. Here's what I'd like (and you know I'm serious when there are two lists in a post):
  1. Raise temperatures to the slightly warmer 40 degree range. 
  2. No more snow or ice. You may throw in a wintery mix or two but only if it doesn't stick and doesn't occur during rush hour.
  3. Tell the wind to go bother someone else.
  4. Keep the snow around pretty landmarks in DC like the memorials and the White House. They look so beautiful with a covering of snow.
  5. BUT make it so people can still get to those places and enjoy them in moderately cold temperatures.
  6. Wrap up your reign in the allotted six weeks. I have vacation at the end of March. I'd really like it if I didn't have to deal with snow and ice like I did last year. Not cute. 
  7. Let those poor meteorologists and other news people come inside. They look so cold and shouldn't be covering any more oddly named winter storms this year.
  8. Leave people's electricity, hot water heaters, heat pumps, and roofs alone. And no pipe bursts either. 
  9. No more flight cancellations. Airline and airport employees (as well as travelers) deserve a break.
  10. Exit this year like a lamb. Just call it day, pack up your stuff, and go quietly into the night.
And what will I do if you agree to my terms? I promise, dear Winter, that for the remainder of this winter and for all of next winter I will not complain about the weather or criticize your life choices during your time of the year. I will go out and enjoy the snow. I will wear a hat even though I look terrible in them. I will not drive to work on days when I should work from home. I will sing your praises and discuss your better qualities to anyone who will listen. Next winter, I will declare you my favorite season.

I am not asking you for a lot really just some common seasonal courtesy. In exchange I am willing to give up Fall as my favorite season for one whole year and worship everything that you, Winter, have to offer. Can we agree to these terms?

If you agree, please meet me at Starbucks for a hot chocolate to toast our agreement for the year. We will then switch to ice coffees because 40 degrees is perfectly reasonable for drinking cold beverages. You can help me pick out my new hat for next year since I'm sure I'll need it as a true devotee.

If you don't agree, I will find a way to punch you in the throat (I'm sure you have one) and I will tell everyone how terrible you are and that you can't be reasoned with. I will start a campaign to revoke your named storm privileges and I will make it my mission to get Jim Cantore to never speak of you ever again.

Let's end this on positive terms, Winter. I know in your cold, cold heart you only want us to be happy.

Love and warm, warm wishes,

Check out all of Henri's musings:

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