Living in the Midwest leaves you dreaming of summer vacation while you languish beneath a leaden sky in February. Watching winter birds and squirrels skitter to the feeder is no consolation for staying inside wrapped up in a thick sweater. Time spent dreaming of warm breezes and green sprouts breaking through the soil gives little solace for the conditions, “cold comfort,” pun intended.
Birthdays are dependent on road conditions, parties rescheduled if nobody can get there, and kids left crying when their special day is cancelled because of the snow and ice. They can’t accept that we’re all at Mother Nature’s mercy. She’s cruel sometimes, or maybe she’s simply fickle and likes to play our travels like her personal Hot Wheel smash-up track. The lady doesn’t care how much sand is in the highway department’s cache.
California dreaming takes on a personal meaning. Close your eyes long enough, and you can almost hear the shriek of seagulls descending on the granola bar in your mouth. You might feel the breeze of their wings flapping above your head in a herd of beggars swarming your chaise-lounged perch in the sand. A slightly fishy smell wafts in the air if you tip your head at just a certain angle.
Reality comes crashing back, much like the surf on tera firma, when open eyelids reveal a much different beach. It’s one made of tiny frozen pellets resembling hailstones but in a foreign environment, one where they’re called sleet. When they’re mixed with snow, the transmogrification is affectionately termed sneet. What a deceptively lovely name for a frozen terrain of crystallized liquid sand, sounding much like snot. This beach of ice balls calls for a temporary stay-cation at home.
Scientists label our condition light deprivation syndrome. Some people call it the winter blues. Others just say they’re “in a funk” after Groundhog Day, whether or not Punxatonie Phil saw his shadow. His prediction means nothing, and you can only say, “Just get here, Spring!” Otherwise, time can stand still.
It’s too nasty to get out, too cold to start the iced-windshield car, and the birthday party will have to wait for another day. If only we could have scheduled it for the beach.
Happy birthday to my sweet son, whose sixth birthday is “on hold” tomorrow.