For a long time I was brought to my knees by our upstate winters. Waking in the mornings to subzero temps, I would feel an overwhelming urge to return to bed, forever. Looking out at a driveway blanketed by snow, I would wonder what I was doing here when I could be boiling like a roadside peanut in sunny Florida.
But no more. I’ve come to embrace the many benefits of living in weather that exfoliates our skin for free.
Harsh winters make you flinty, whether you like it or not. Me? I’m a huge fan of this no-nonsense trait. Frankly, I like knowing how to free my car from a snowbank and my tongue from a metal pole. Good stuff. And I find it thrilling to return, still alive, from a bitterly cold walk that no south-of-the-border begonia would ever entertain.
Most of us upstate veterans have acquired superior driving skills, thanks to the varied and volatile conditions we’ve experienced. We know how to pass a semi in blinding snow without wetting our wears. We know how to recover from a front-wheel spin. We excel at avoiding potholes. And we’re even adept at giving tailgaters the one-finger salute in whiteouts.
Winter conditions help us care a tad less about our appearance, which many find liberating. Hair doesn’t bounce back after being entombed in a sweaty hat for hours on end. Lips crack. Makeup runs. Noses drip. Skin flakes off. For those less resilient, these appearance shifts could be downright immobilizing. But for those who know what to expect from winter’s wand, it’s a big nothing. So what if my eyes are frozen open, you still find me attractive, right?
Fashion takes a backseat to warmth when it’s cold outside — a welcome break for our pocketbooks. Swaddled from head to toe in a slew of downy layers, we can go about our day with nary a care in the world. PJs under our coat? Our cozy secret! Clothes plucked from the floor? Nothing a puffy vest won’t hide! Sweats at the philharmonic? Hallelujah for faux-fur outerwear!
Prolonged cold weather happily brings forth curious, quirky behaviors. I’ve seen folks wearing shorts while shopping, I’ve seen guys playing golf in the snow, I’ve noticed pets in winter-wear fit for royalty and, personally, I’ve successfully befriended a number of indoor spiders. Who knew they enjoyed music, too?
Finally, the caliber of our winters really helps us take cabin fever up a notch. Being cooped up for weeks on end teaches us how to dig deep and go for the jugular, fixating on idiosyncrasies of loved ones that go unnoticed in warmer months. As in, “I didn’t think a human being could eat a banana that loudly!” “Are you seriously going to floss with that knife?!” “If you snort your nose one more time, I’m leaving!”
See what I mean about winter and all its unexpected perks? Worth every frozen toe! Now if you’ll excuse me, I think Charlotte needs a backrub.
Anne Palumbo writes this column for Messenger Post newspapers. Her email is