Confessions of a Winterphobe

Confessions of a Winterphobe

Britta Caldwell
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Every year, around October, maybe late September, the same things happen. I wake up in the dark, wondering if perhaps I accidentally awoke at 3 A.M. instead of 7 A.M. I have to wear a jacket, sometimes all day. I rustle through my ever-growing bin of hats. And I dread the coming months.

It’s true: I’m a winterphobe. All summer long, I bask in my natural highlights, popsicles, and refreshing dips in the rivers. But with the crispness of fall, I feel myself fighting a rising tide of blue. And I’m not talking crystalline, Caribbean blue. I’m talking Puget Sound-esque, grey-blue, tangled-with-seaweed-and-trying-to-drag-me-down blue. Living in Montana, I always know I’m in for a long winter, and I mourn the loss of summer every year.

For many years I’ve stifled this voice. Shit, I’ve lived here for almost 10 years, and I’ve gotten used to the incessant chatter about ski passes and powder days. For a few years I even tried to get into the spirit of it; buying frequent-skier cards at Bridger, investing in puffy coats and snowboards. But the real me, the tank-top-loving me, can’t hide anymore. I’ve got some things to say. Namely, I hate winter. I’m not just afraid of it, I hate it.

I’ve decided this year that I’m done pretending to be a snowboarder. The way I look at it, no matter how perfectly dressed I am for the day, some part of me usually ends up cold. Usually my ass, which serves as a testament to how good I am at snowboarding. After a hurried move to a new house last spring, I have no idea where my snowboard hides. And I’m not going to look for it.

I was raised by a father who always told me to put on more clothes if I was cold. The exchanges went something like this: “I don’t care if you’re cold. Put on more clothes.” It was actually more of a decree than an exchange. Now that I’m the homeowner, I decree: I’m tired of dressing like I’m on an arctic expedition while I’m inside my house. This winter, I’m cranking the heat. If you come over, wear a tank top underneath your puffy coat. I’m not turning the heat down because you overdressed. I know I should try to be more green, but my house is small, so there. This winter, I will convert it to a large sauna.

There are parts of winter I cannot control. I can’t rush the equinox and make the days start getting longer. I can’t control the weather (duh). But I can control how I spend my money. So this winter, rather than waste money on a sport I don’t enjoy, I’m saving my pennies for a midwinter trip to Mexico. Don’t look at me with that hint of jealousy when I come home sunburned in January. You could do it too.

There’s one other thing I’m going to work on controlling. My attitude. This may seem like a pissy rant, but really, it’s just an acceptance speech. I know you’re coming, winter, and I’m doing my best to prepare for you. I will continue adapting. This winter, I’m going to hunt out new trails and give cross-country skiing a serious try. The dog will be able to join me, and if anything, I love watching her frolic in the snow. I’m going to try to turn my house into “that” house I always envy: the one with soups and stews and homebaked breads. If I’m outside less, I’d better be productive while I’m inside. And if anything, I will do my best to not fear winter, but to create my own winter. One void of ski passes, goggle tans, wearing hats indoors, and a grumpy Britta. I’ll replace those things with a person who can genuinely look around and appreciate the beauty of winter in Montana. I know you’re coming winter. This time, I’m ready. Hopefully.

Illustration by Mimi Matsuda

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