Winter in Vermont

     I’ve been having trouble switching over to my winter training regimen.
     Actually, “regimen” might be putting it a bit strongly, unless you consider lying on the couch eating bread and cheese, throwing another log on the fire and reading biographies of 17th century criminals a “regime.”
     I don’t, particularly. But it’s 6 degrees out there.
     Don’t get the wrong idea. I like every one of those 6 degrees. I treasure each one of their lovely little Fahrenheits. But when 6 is the high temperature, my ardor for them cools a bit. If that’s possible.
     There were days, when I was young, that I considered 6 degrees just 6 degrees. I remember the day I ran 8 miles in 48 minutes and 3 seconds when it was 3 degrees in Chicago.
     But that was long ago. Now I consider 6 degrees an impediment. An impediment to my regimen.
     My regimen consists of taking long bike rides every day it ain’t raining for the 6 months of the year when Vermont is paradise. The other part of the regimen, apparently, consists mostly of huddling. Huddling and snoozing. And snacking.
     It’s been a cold winter in Vermont, though winter just began Tuesday. No snow yet, by which I mean nothing I’ve had to shovel. But cold, cold.
     My professed love for each of those 6 degrees dies a’borning when, as the weatherman says, it’s “a bit breezy,” with “north to northwest winds of 15 to 20 mph, gusting at times to 50.”
     Last week – this is true – the weatherman said, “Something is heading this way.”
     How would that make you feel?
     This is a meteorologist with a contract with Vermont Public Radio, and that’s all he can predict? “Something is heading this way”?
     He didn’t know if it would be snow, ice, sleet, hail, rain, freezing rain, or all six of them.
     We got all six of them.
     Then it warmed up to 42 degrees, and let me tell you, 42 degrees never felt so good.
     And it’s not even January.
     But I was talking about my, ahem, regimen. My regimen is – has been – to run 3 or 4 miles a day in the winter until the biking weather comes again, which is sometime in May.
     That’s so hard to admit. That winter won’t end till May. Oh, sometime in April we’ll bullshit ourselves that spring has arrived. Shirtless guys in cutoffs will wash their cars in their driveways because 34 degrees will feel so good. I may be among them.
     We’re bullshitting ourselves already. And this is a good thing. I bullshit myself by wearing just a thick cotton shirt when I go out into 6 degrees. I am freezing my ass off, but that’s not the main thing. The main thing is, I am showing winter that I can go about my daily errands dressed only in a cotton shirt, because WINTER WILL NOT DEFEAT ME.
     Winter will wear me down. Winter will probably make me sick. And tired. Winter will eventually force me to put on layer after layer of clothing, and a ridiculous puffy jacket, and two pairs of socks, and an orange stocking cap, and boots with rubber soles, and gloves that no matter how thick and expensive, and no matter what their Space Age lining, will fail to keep my hands warm. Winter will make me sprain my back shoveling wet snow from the driveway in a windstorm at zero. But WINTER WILL NOT DEFEAT ME, and do you know why? Because I will bullshit myself for as long as I can. And that will make the winter seem shorter.
     We all do this, for one thing or another. You there, sitting in a traffic jam in Southern California, are bullshitting yourself too. Yes, you are. I used to be one of you. Now I am bullshitting myself another way.
     That’s life in the United States.
     Merry Christmas.

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