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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

In Which I Wave to Winter From Afar

I recently came off a splendid 10-day holiday. It was really a stay-cation spent mostly near Bethany Home Road in central Phoenix, but stay-cation sounds more elegant if I refer to it as being on holiday.

I don’t like to plan lots of things for my holidays, like long trips to the beach, preferring instead to be spontaneous and cheap. I do enjoy going out to local eateries I usually don’t have the chance to visit for lunch during a regular work week, and this means I can take my time and splash my food with abandon.

(I’m not really exaggerating. I went to a Vietnamese restaurant for lunch on the last day of my holiday, and I’m pretty sure the fact that I splashed a lime wedge in my pho twice, leaving puddles on my communal table and spots on my shirt, is the reason the guy facing me on the other side of the dining room left abruptly.)

I was on the tail end of a sickness, too. Don’t worry, it wasn’t that bad. It lasted the whole month of November and through my holiday but the worst part of it were the first few days when it started. I was worried that it was the flu, since it is flu season. In fact, last week was National Influenza Vaccination Week. I tend to get my shots as early as they are offered but this year was different and I am lagging. Even as I wrote this I thought I was too late, but apparently this is the time of year to get one if you haven’t already. I suppose it could've been RSV. I've never had that before (that I'm aware.)

I contemplated going to Flagstaff for a day or two during my holiday to see and feel winter up close, but honestly, one of the reasons I left Flag in the first place almost 13 years ago is because of this:

And this:

Sure, snow is gorgeous to watch when it’s fluttering down and forcing you to hum “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” (I’m partial to the original Andy Williams version.) Snowfall can be surreal, especially at night, when the sound of everything outside is muffled yet you can hear when a big, wet snowflake hits your ear.

Watching snow coat the countryside and flirting with a heart attack while shoveling said snow are mutually exclusive, though, at least in my humble opinion. The exact moment I decided I’d had enough snow came during one of the last winter storms I would endure in Flagstaff:

I was in my upstairs apartment, likely drinking hot apple cider. It had been snowing all day long, those big flakes that look like dandelion seeds. My apartment faced a small, quiet residential street just north of the Northern Arizona University campus, so the sound of a high-revving engine stuck out conspicuously. I suspected some poor college kid from Phoenix got a Honda Accord high-centered in the snow on that side street, not unusual since those were the last streets that got plowed.

Not one to turn my back on a chance to build some karma, I threw on my heavy coat and gloves, and went outside to help someone push a car over a snow bank. This is what I saw stuck outside:

“I hope they have someone to call,” I muttered to myself as I took off my heavy coat and gloves while heading back inside to my hot cider.

Is there a moral to this story? Maybe. It might be something like be prepared. Or check the National Weather Service before driving places where it might snow. Or be aware of the effect freezing temps can have on your water pipes.

My own moral: You don’t have to shovel sunshine.

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