My partner Natalie had to get some pre-winter cold disgruntlement out of her system today. She’s is feeling bummed about the place where winter and autumn moosch together, and the long season of puffy coats that lies ahead of us. I can certainly identify. Just yesterday I was telling myself how little I like being cold as I threw on the second coat, wool mittens, and ear muffs, and set out on bike to make the brisk ride to work.
And even though I know I will likely be bordering on, or over, freezing my butt off for the next several months, I am not bummed. Even though I will spend every waking moment, and some sleeping moments resisting the cold air with layers, and layers (aaaannd layers) of various types of materials from recycled plastic bottles to animal hair and feathers, I am thankful for this freezing semi-arid alpine dessert tundra time of year. I am thankful for the coming snot-cicles clumped in my facial hair. I am glad for the bleary, frozen-eyed bike rides until the snow flies. I am grateful that the season knows who is boss and doesn’t let us forget it.
No, I’m not crazy — I don’t have a death-wish — and I’m not even a winter sport aficionado. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the long languid days of summer, or revile the 50 megaton explosion that is spring in this part of the country. Like I said, I don’t even like being cold, not even for a second — ever.
But I am nevertheless, giving all kinds of thanks today, as the temperature strains to rise above 40F. Why? Because, it is this frigid hell that makes everything else possible here in Montana. Without freezing temperatures and mountains of snow, this place would be like southern Nevada, or California — a desert. Without lengthy, bone-chilling winters, we’d have exponentially more insects the rest of the year; and having grown up chased and tortured by cockroaches in the deep South, I can attest to the pleasure of an entirely roachless landscape. If it weren’t for the seasonal ice, our rivers would choke on the dust, and shrivel into little streamlets not capable of carrying the diverse aquatic life they now hold. If it weren’t for the Earth’s back-tilt away from the sun, and the shivering months that follow, our summer might be just as unbearable as it was for me growing up in Alabama (where it becomes dangerously hot each year).
So I will stand tall for Natalie today, so that she may hunch in my wind shadow. I will look the coming winter in the face and thank it for it’s many blessings, while Natalie curses the same winter’s discomforting touch. I will be glad that the cold comes to make sure our spring is exceptionally explosive, and that our summer is deliciously appreciated and reveled in, and that our autumn brings a psychedelic color show to every leafy tree.