The Ice of Texas

All I can say is there’s a lot of schadenfreude going on about our spending a winter in New York.

“You think this is bad?  You’ll be going nuts in February.  It’s called winter.  Get used to it.”

“You’re going to be begging to get out of there.”

“Think you’re going to make it till April?  Really?”

And so on.  Now, wait a damned minute.  My husband and I are hardened veterans of six very long and hard winters spent in Virginia (a place my parents routinely referred to as “the Northeast”).  I suppose some people will hoot at that as not being sufficient preparation for a real winter, but let me assure you, it was viciously cold.

The first year, the fabled winter of 1977-78, we were victims of a terrible blizzard that left us stranded in our apartment for days.  I almost lost my mind, being surrounded by a dirty sea of gold shag carpeting and an obnoxious Randy Newman album my husband insisted on playing again and again.  People in Siberia might have it tough, but they never had to submit to the torture of “Short People” played at top volume, now did they?

Besides, we have been carefully building up a wardrobe of winter clothes for New York.  Scarves, coats, boots.  “I don’t care about fashion,” I told the highly uninterested shoe salesman at the nearby store.  “I just want traction.”   He nodded, deeply bored, and sold me fur-lined boots with soles like tractor tires.  I plan to give them one chance: With God as my witness, if I slip on the ice at all, I’m taking up residence on our couch and won’t leave the apartment till May.

But — here‘s what’s strange.  So far, our New York winter has been quite mild.  (I know, I know.  It’s not officially winter yet.  Big deal.  Let’s not quibble about details like the calendar when a greater narrative purpose is being served.)  At the same time, it’s been snowing in Dallas and maybe even in Austin.  My information comes, of course, from friends on Facebook.

All of which I would find amusing, ironic, you name it.  Except for one tiny detail: We have a trip scheduled to Texas next week.

I can just see it.  We’ll leave New York on a stunningly beautiful, clear, crisp day and arrive in Dallas in a blizzard.  A blizzard in Texas is made up of a few errant snowflakes, which immediately causes schools to be canceled and weatherpeople to go into 24/7 crisis mode.  People will be cleaning out the supermarkets, shopping for provisions like toilet paper and bourbon.  Panic will reign.  Cars will spin on the roads, since nobody has the slightest idea how to drive on ice.

Sometimes, even the prospect of snow can create scenes like this.  I’ve seen it.  I’ve participated in it.  (Forget the toilet paper.  I go straight for the bourbon.)

The more I think about it, the more I realize winters in New York are a snap.  It’s the Texas winters you have to watch out for.  This year, we’ll get some of both.  Cut the schadenfreude and send us some bourbon.

(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)

Read one of my favorite posts about living in a furnace

11 comments… add one
  • I slipped on the ice on a sidewalk in Austin shortly after I moved back here 15 years ago and re-injured the shoulder I had injured in Boston after slipping while shoveling snow.

  • Cindy A Link

    They might get snow in NYC, but nobody does ice like Texas. Rain turns to ice, snow melts in the afternoon and turns to ice in the evening. If there’s moisture and off-and-on freezing temps, there are layers and layers of black ice.  Bring those tractor tire boots when you come home, Ruth.  And some steely nerves for driving.

  • You are never safe from weather.  Here I am in New Zealand where  it’s summer. There is a southerly storm in progress (think South Pole), driving cold rain, wild wind.  The tour I was going on for the day has been canceled.  At least I have internet.

  • Winston Link

    In Eastern North Carolina, we understand mild winters.
    Between December 1 and March 15,
    murder in the bread aisle is exempt from prosecution.

  • Cape Cod is supposed to have mild winters, but since the climate changed we never know what to expect. Today it was almost 70.  Snow flurries are forecast for the weekend.

  • Craig Link

    Them Yankees up in Austin or Dallas(to us Hugetown residents everything above La Grange is The North) may be having snow flurries, but here in the tropics we had a beautiful clear day sipping our Tiki bar drinks. What do you expect them weathermen to talk about? Hurricane season is over and they have to scare us the best way they know how.I finally put my long pants on for the season.  

  • Cindy A Link

    I want to go wherever Craig lives.

  • I remember being delayed for hours in Schiphol Airport a few years ago, while our plane was de-iced,although it was only -1C, which was positively balmy to this hardened Canuck.
    We’re having a pretty balmy winter here in the so-called Frozen North, too. First time I can remember making it all the way through November without a single flurry. Here’s hoping it gets wintry real soon; otherwise we’ll pay the piper next summer, when the critters and bugs that are usually decimated in winter come out swinging (and chomping)!

  • Sheryl Link

    Ruth, Having lived in both NYC and CT., I can assure you that whenever I go into NYC after it’s snowed in Connecticut, I am simply amazed at the lack of snow only 45 miles away.  Somehow, it disappears before it even accumulates. NYC winters are sooo much easier and the good thing is that you are rarely stranded. There’s always an open restaurant or grocery store and the sidewalks are always cleared right away.

  • Hell, you’re not even short, not even in your self confessed shrunken state.  The last but one winter I spent in Massachusetts we had a memorable blizzard in which the state was declared a disaster area, the National Guard was called in, and the governor issued an advisory warning for people 5 feet tall and under to stay off the streets.  Where was Randy then?

  • I’m in Buffalo. ’nuff said.

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