Yes, believe it or not, I am about to spend a few minutes of your precious time talking about the weather.
It’s probable that I haven’t mentioned this before now but I live in upstate New York — the part of New York with cows and barns and tiny villages. When it’s cold, it’s white and when it’s warm, it’s green, and there isn’t a skyscraper in sight.
This is significant for those of you who seem to think that New York doesn’t go any further north than Westchester County and it consists entirely of the megatropolis of New York City. In case you’ve never heard this before, there’s a lot more to the Empire State than The Big Apple.
One of the more interesting facets of life in upstate New York for me has been the simple fact that I had never before lived anywhere where the weather ruled people’s lives the way it does up here — and with good reason.
The part of upstate New York in which I live is within the Lake Ontario snowbelt. That’s the one that dumps approximately 115 inches of lake effect snow on Syracuse every year. In fact, while I used to live on the edge of that snowbelt when I first moved up here from Brooklyn, I have since moved twice — further and further into the thing.
Possibly, you’ll think I’m nuts but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Where I live now might be further into the snowbelt by about 10 miles but it’s still a vast improvement over where I was living at this time last year.
Here, I’ll show you. Take a look at this.
This is a picture of what the world looked like from the deck of the place I was living before I moved to where I live now. Gorgeous, isn’t it? Lush and green and full of natural beauty. Looks like there isn’t another soul for miles around, one of those peaceful, restful places you go to recharge your spirit. And, if you’re paying attention, no doubt you will have noticed that we were pretty high up here. The better to be able to see for miles around, right? It looked like this for about five months of the year and most people who came to visit me when I lived there — and there weren’t many — would always exclaim about the amazing view. Really, this picture doesn’t do it justice.
This, on the other hand, is what it looked like for much of the other seven months of the year: dark and cold and lots of snow. In fact, what you are looking at here is lake effect snow. It’s wet, heavy snow. It’s heavy enough to be punishing to shovel. It’s wet enough to freeze over easily and, even when it isn’t freezing over, it’s still slushy and dangerous to drive on. It’s even more dangerous because it’s way up on a very steep hill — a hill so steep that we had nicknamed it “Car-Killer Hill” by the time we moved. I went through three cars in as many years of living there because, of course, when you live in the middle of nowhere, it doesn’t matter how dangerous the terrain is. If there are places you need to be, then you need to be there.
When you live up here, you are expected to be able to deal with the weather.
Where I live now is, as I mentioned, some 10 miles further into the snowbelt but it’s also in the small city of Oneonta (which you can probably just make out in the east-central part of that map up there), where they are more likely to plow the streets than they are to plow the roads in the middle of nowhere. We are in a city where, if the roads are really terrible for driving, I can walk to most place I need to go, including my job. Best of all, we are off Car-Killer Hill, so I don’t have to take my life into my hands every time I run to the store in the winter.
All in all, I think this is an improvement.
No doubt you’re wondering why I’m talking about all this in late August? That’s because it has been unmistakably borne in upon me that it’s time to start getting ready for winter. The leaves on the trees are already turning. We’ve got your standard early autumn shake-and-bake weather going on here, with overnight temperatures between 40 and 55 and daytime highs of 70 to 85. The cats are stuffing their faces like they think it’s going to snow next week and putting on their winter fat layer already.
And the Associated Press is reporting that the Farmer’s Almanac has predicted a really cold, really snowy winter in the northeast.
However, being the eternal optimist, I’m not thinking about the probable discomfort I’m likely to suffer in this very old and poorly insulated house I’m renting. That’s because I’m too busy being thankful that I won’t have to get through another winter on Car-Killer Hill.
Perspective is everything, isn’t it?