I just saw the first robins ! Spring is still a way away here in central New York State we have seen snow as late as May 10th. Last week the icicles on the roof finally met our grill on the back deck. How much do you know about weather zones? When we were looking for a place to live back in 1989, I knew nothing of them. I foolishly assumed that the entirety of New York State was in the same weather zone as NYC. Not so. It was a rude awakening. Brooklyn,NY has low temperatures of 0 to 5 degrees, our new home in Garrattsville NY was in weather zone 4a the lows are -30 to -25. There was about 3 inches of snow that first day of spring in 1989. With all the hub bub of moving I just thought it was an oddity.
In Brooklyn on the 1st day of spring I would be starting our garden.I was lulled into complacency with the quick melt down that followed. The daffodils were coming up.In 1989 Easter Sunday was March 30 and on that day those flowers were in full bloom. We enjoyed a lovely spring and summer. Little did I know what was in store for us.The day after labor day was the first day of school. I looked outside and we had a frost that September 1989. The garden was glistening with ice. The kids toys were white with frost. We had a wood heater in our home, so I stoked that up to warm things up a bit. Then it warmed up again.” A fluke”, I thought. When Halloween came it was freezing. The kids had to wear snowsuits under their costumes. On November 1st it started to snow and it kept snowing.
The temperatures kept steadily going lower and lower. One day while doing laundry I dropped a sock on the way out to the clothes dryer that was in the garage. On the way back I picked it up. It broke in half as it became frozen to the ground in that short period of time. Another time the dryer did not start and when I went out it to get the clothes they were a block of ice. I did not know what else to do so I just turned it on and the huge block of laundry banged around in there until it defrosted. I had to watch the dog when I let him out. His feet would freeze up and he would roll over on his back. I would have to go out and carry him back into the house I am certain he just would have frozen laying their with his legs straight up in the air..
I worked nights at that time and ended up having to get a battery warmer for my car, otherwise it would not start. My husband had used a hair dryer to get it going at one point but the battery warmer was more practical. I never knew such things existed.. Subfreezing temperatures certainly put a different perspective on personal safety. One night I thought I had gotten something in my eye and it turned out that is was just the moisture in my eyeball freezing up. Another night I took a shower right before I left and managed to break a piece of my hair off as it froze as I attempted to put it behind my ear as I was starting my car. I learned not to breath through my mouth as my silver fillings would freeze up, metal conducts cold right down to those nerve endings and it would feel like I my head would explode.
There were fun times too, we enjoyed science experiments with the children. Hot air rises. A paper bag with hot air from a hair dryer would rise up a good ten feet. Soap bubbles would freeze and roll across the snow before they shattered. We made ice cream without ice or salt by just leaving the machine outside.We made ice lanterns by putting a can with a rock inside a bucket of water. It would freeze around the can. We would remove the can and bucket and put a candle in it. They were a glorious display at night. The snow was incredible. Snow on top of snow. The children started tunneling. They made igloos and snowmen. Food coloring in spray bottles of water lent itself to creativity with snow we had never known before.
The community pulled together and made the most of winter and helped each other when ever possible. The children had movie weekends and sledding parties. There were Winter balls at the school and Cabin fever dances in the town. Local theater groups always had February productions.
Living in a rural area we had a regular mail box that was set on a post by the side of the road. Inevitably the snow plow would hit it and we had to figure what to do. I duct taped it many times. My husband screwed a beam into it so it would be out over the ditch. That was hit too and it broke off. One year it snowed so much we just dug a hole in the snow bank and deposited it in there. There it stayed until spring. At that point my husband made the arm that reached out on a swivel. So in the years that followed , when the snow plow hit the mailbox, instead of breaking off, it would just swing away!
The most disturbing phenomenon of winter is what I like to call the “Ice Ninja”. You could be calmly walking along the street and then you will find yourself flat on your back. Yep, the Ice Ninja at work. Your legs are swept out from beneath you. The Ninja strikes usually when you have become complacent. You think you are being sure footed then all at once you are staring at the sky.
I am an old pro with winter now. I know I need to layer my clothes. I will wear multiple pairs of socks. No chic leather boots for me. I always get them with treads! Long underwear is my friend.I wear a hoodie and a scarf under my coat. Gloves are a must! We have ergonomic shovels. Protect your skin with moisturizer. Breathe through your nose. I know how to put chains on the car. I can shovel, scrape ice off a windshield, knock icicles off the house. .I have found the internet does a wonderful job of staving off cabin fever, especially since I am planning my next garden.I take pride in the accomplishment of all I learned. I know I am one of the thousands of Snow Queens in central New York and we certainly have earned that title!.