Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Snowflake on the Dashboard

When Johnnie was still working a 40+ hour a week job at the corporation-not-to-be-named, we decided to get him a more cost efficient car for commuting -- he was traveling about 20 miles each way to work. We bought a Prius before it was an economic imperative.

Now he's a school bus driver at a neighboring district. I don't have to get up in the morning with him but I do because I work better in the morning and getting started that early helps me establish a reasonably efficient routine, especially when I have paying work to do. So we get up about 5am and we're out of the house at roughly 6am to get coffee, then Johnnie heads off to the transportation office and I come home to really wake up and get my day rolling.

As we drive in our respective vehicles to get coffee, we talk by cell phone. I know it's goofy but we've been doing it for years. Our kids think we're silly. We have a set couple-chat patter that we go through each morning. Johnnie calls, tells me the current conditions and then we exchange a series of waves for the day. (Even though the wave thing is dippy, it helps us both know what's on each other's schedules for the day so it has become a valuable ritual for us. What's strange is when we're with someone we know and have to do the wave thing in front of them. We validate our weirdness for our family that way, also valuable.)

Today is October 7th. We had a mostly killing frost last night (btw, isn't it EARLY this year??) so the allergy sufferers among us can begin to get some relief. So in Johnnie's description of the current weather conditions at 6:05am this morning he said, for the first time this fall season, "There's a snowflake on the dashboard." Sigh. Groan. The Prius posts the temperature on the status screen and posts an electronic snowflake on the dashboard when the temperature gets close to freezing, usually shows up about 37 or 38 degrees. And cheerfully puts the @#$% snowflake up here every time the temps are below 37 degrees. I seriously think I can see the car leering gleefully at me as it puts up the snowflake every morning without fail from October until April. Grrrrr.

It isn't that I mind the snowflake on the dashboard per se. It's what it means: several months now of wintry yucky cold GRAY weather. I'm a warm weather girl and I begin about now to question my/our sanity in staying in this part of the country. We grapple with snow where other states battle mudslides, hurricanes, wild fires, floods and tornadoes but that is absolutely no comfort (to me at least) when we're being battered with snow and ceaseless grayness for 30 consecutive days in January and February. The snowflake on the dashboard is the first harbinger of those things to come.

We lived in Minnesota for 11 years and while it was bone chilling cold for weeks on end, it was sunny and pretty outside. Here? Not so much of the pretty part. And definitely very little of the sunny part. Cheerful and comfy become challenges.

We peg our yearly schedules to the snowflake on the dashboard, when the Erie Canal gets drained and refilled, when our favorite ice cream shop reopens, when we can sit outside at our favorite restaurant. At this time of the year I begin mourning all the lightness and warmth of the waning summer. We aren't considering moving (yet) because of Erin, Mike and the little girls. So we'll suck it up for another winter and continue questioning that sanity every day from now until April. Welcome back, little snowflake.


LceeL said...

Yes. But don't you appreciate the warmth of Spring and Summer more for having survived yet another Winter?

Courtney said...

It's the gray days that bother me. I can live with the snow, but I hate gray. It makes me feel gray...and very blah.

Karen said...

You will have to go out and get a second cup of your coffee of choice in the afternoon. I went for a walk on Wednesday & Thursday afternoon during lunch and the weather was quite wonderful. I thought of you both times along with your snowflake.
We, well really my husband, was shopping around during the summer for a replacement car with good or great gas mileage. There were no Honda civics to be found. Many people were buying smaller cars because of the high gas prices.
I'm heading out for my lunch time walk. I'll again think of you and the snowflake which should have melted by now.