Side Effect – noun. Any accompanying or consequential and usually detrimental effect.
It is safe to say that a majority of people across the country at this point are tired of winter. Sure, some hearty souls still claim to be enjoying the season, and I commend them for their enthusiasm. As for the rest of us, however, we are eagerly waiting for a seasonal shift – not just because we would desperately like to hang up our shovels for a few months, but because of the rather bizarre side effects this season forces upon us.
For those in more temperate climates, you may have experienced a touch of cold and ice and maybe even some snow this year, but for the most part you don’t experience the same on-going consequences as those of us in northern climes. Battling these side effects is what wears us down. Allow me to give a few examples:
- Outer Wear Fashion Goes Out the Window. Early in the season, when we first feel a chill in the air, and thrill at the first pretty snow flakes falling from the sky, we giddily get out our cute winter coats, our trendy scarves and our girly gloves. However, after several weeks of frigid temperatures and piles of frozen precipitation, we abandon how we look when heading out the door. Our focus shifts to only the two most important factors: staying warm and dry, and attempting to stay upright and avoid falling. Out come the big clunky (yet warm and safe) boots, and the practical layers. I have a walking outfit that is fairly hideous. My fellow lunch-time walking co-workers can attest to this. I layer up with heavy sweatpants, a fuzzy fleece top, thick yet truly ugly mittens, and a head wrap scarf that I affectionately call my babushka. Not one item matches any other item. And I don’t care. I can look cute and trendy in the Spring.
- Buh-Bye Barefeet. From approximately November through March, our feet are never uncovered. While we were previously frolicking barefoot, or donning adorable sandals, our feet now do not see the light of day. They go from socks to shoes to boots… and even after returning home, it is too cold to go bare, and we shove our feet into fuzzy slippers. There is no sense in getting pedi’s and coloring our toes until daffodils sprout in the garden. Unless, of course, it gives us the same small thrill as wearing a pretty new pair of panties that no one will see.
- Cruddy Camouflage. We are not the only ones looking a bit blah by now. Our cars are too. Every vehicle on the road is the same color: grey. It is too cold to wash them, and even if we did, they will be grey again within 24 hours. Inside the car is no better. Grit and grime everywhere. Along with, likely, spilled coffee or hot cocoa.
- Pothole Dodging. This season brings with it a game to test our reflexes and dexterity as the roads on which we travel disintegrate. I’m not talking about minor bumps and cracks – oh no. There are frost heaves the size of small mountains, lanes of crumbled pavement, and holes large enough to swallow a Mini Cooper. I’m sure a structural or chemical engineer could explain why something so seemingly durable as asphalt can not stand up to the brutality of winter…. I will just assume that the combination of bitter cold and heavy snowplows is mostly at fault. No matter the reason, smooth rides are no longer an option. And as we worry about the possible damage to our vehicles, we Real Women must remember something vitally important: under no circumstances get behind the wheel with a full bladder.
- The Other Kind of Cracks and Crumbles. There is not enough moisturizer in the country to successfully combat winter dry skin. The cold crisp air devoid of any humidity, along with dry indoor heat, combine to create the perfect storm for our complexions. Our tone gets paler, our lines get deeper, and we are able to carry on complex conversations about the benefits of any number of lotions and serums. Like being on a deserted island, R.W.’s need three things to survive the season: food, water and hand cream.
- Helpless Infatuations With Starch and Sugar. Like a mama bear in hibernation mode, we R.W.’s crave, search for, and create comfort foods. If a dish is warm, tasty, filling and satisfying, we dive in. Gone are the carrot sticks and popsicles of the summer; they are replaced with bread sticks, mashed potatoes and cake. We know we are gaining weight by seeking solace in sweets and savories, yet we don’t stop until the temperatures warm and we are forced to shed our heavy layers to reveal the damage done.
- Patience, Where Art Thou? Small inconveniences and minor challenges become huge hurdles and ugly aggravations after several weeks of winter. Our patience has departed, likely hopping a plane for the tropics. We are left to try to manage with minimal coping skills, even if we are normally very capable, strong women. The other day I stepped out my front door to my carefully shoveled steps and walkway, only to find that the snow my husband had shoveled off the porch roof to keep us safe, had landed in heaps in my path. The same path I cleared after every snowfall was now filled with two feet of hard- packed mass. I went inside and had a full-blown I-hate-winter meltdown. In reality, my husband easily cleared the way later that night with the snow-blower. But at that moment, that morning, my patience had evaporated. I do believe I threw a shovel into a snowbank. Ah well, we’ll find it in the spring.
Just like the warning labels on the side of medicine bottles indicate, side effects may vary. And I will admit that not all consequences of the season are bad. As winter wears on, we all begin to rally around each other, to commiserate about our plight, and to try to find ways to cope and be positive. We remind each other that at some point, spring will come. The snow will melt. Temperatures will go back above the freezing mark. This winter will become a memory, something to tell stories about, and the detrimental side effects will fade.
Today on my way home from work, I passed a house obviously inhabited by those with either a keen sense of humor or a whole lot of optimism. There, perched on top of a big snow pile in the front yard, were two colorful lawn chairs, a surfboard, and a case of beer. The sight made my day and helped me remember: this too shall pass.
I feel for you!! When it is time to talk moving south I have a great realtor!!