Ah, Bay Area cold weather — the time when, as one friend recently said, the girls put away their thin summer sweaters and pull out their thin winter ones.
The rest of the world must be laughing at us, is the most common refrain heard in these parts this time of year second maybe only to the whine “why does everybody forget how to drive in the rain?”
Back East, a winter day involves white flurries, shovels, frozen pipes and perpetual prayers for temperatures that make it out of the single digits. The single digits in the positive, that is.
But here in California — specifically these lovely areas by the Bay — hitting anything less than 40 degrees in the equivalent of a snow day. In fact, for reasons I can’t quite fathom, my vehicle likes to sound a ding and display a snowflake on the temperature gauge anytime the outside hits below 40. Suffice to say, this week’s commute has been rife with more dings than an elevator rigged to hit each floor in a high-rise.
A coworker bundled up earlier this week to leave the office and walk to his car. Scarf. Wool coat. Snow mittens — not gloves, mind you, but two-part, double-layered mittens. Hat.
“Where did you park? Antarctica?” asked his boss. Then the refrain. “Us Californians must look like idiots.”
Perhaps. But we already nailed the silly label long ago for many other reasons. The taxes we pay. The housing prices we pay. Uggs with miniskirts. Pension problems. That weird Google barge. Southern California. Berkeley.
What’s a little weather whining on top of that? I’ll take idiocy, with a side of less than inclement weather. At least I’ll be able to unfreeze the hands long enough to type a snarky response.
The cold just makes every chore a little harder to accomplish and entertainment hard-pressed to enjoy. There is a reason I don’t follow football and it has nothing to do with the actual sport. OK, maybe a lot to do with the sport. But the time of year and the weather it brings, even in California, is enough to keep me at bay waiting for spring training.
That said, there are a number of things the cold makes me appreciate. Flannel sheets. Electric blankets. A roof over my head. Roaring fires. A hot cup of coffee. Having feeling in the tips of the fingers. Car seat warmers. Boots replacing peep-toe heels which negate needing a perfect pedicure every day. Soup. Putting the dogs in ridiculous sweaters under the guise of keeping them warm. Staying in bed an extra hour. Mid-winter trips elsewhere. Hot showers. Justifying not washing my hair every morning. Having somebody else fetch the morning newspaper.
As the week wanes down, the freezing temperatures finally feel like they’re loosening their grip. The morning grass is still brittle. The car still sounds unhappy at first turn of the ignition. But at least the sun starts a bit of a thaw mid-morning and the dogs don’t immediately stop in their tracks at the chilly open door willing their full bladders to last just a little longer before they must brave the elements.
There are certainly plenty of things I prefer frosty, my beer glass and cynical little heart among them. But the weather? That still needs to kick it up a notch or two.
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: email@example.com or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org.