April 2013

Why I'm a heat-seeking miss

By Suzanne Strazza

Okay, it’s official. I do not like winter. I am so damn sick of it right now and I am sorry to whine, but I am getting persnickety in my old age, so I’m going to say whatever pleases me.

I know that living in the desert, I am supposed to appreciate the snow. I understand that I should be thankful that it’s still cold so that the snow “lasts.” Overcast means no melting in the sun. I can wrap my head around all of that but when push comes to shove I am tired of being cold.

The cold just hurts – physically and emotionally. When we have warm sunny days at this time of year and the birds are singing and the air has that slightly loamy scent I am ecstatic – I feel like I can breathe again, stretch my limbs. When the weather reverts to frigid, blustery, soggy, it hurts my feelings.

And I begin to worry that the apocalypse is here and that I will be living in a frozen wasteland for the next 50 years.

I used to enjoy winter. I actually moved west to be a ski bum. I even, at one point, lived in Summit County – it doesn’t get any more wintry.

F---- that.

I’m skinny, decrepit and clumsy. The wind blows right through my already aching joints, I have no insulation and I fall down on dry ground – I am a train wreck on ice.

In one week I ripped open my three favorite pairs of pants because I landed on either my knees or my ass. I could barely walk for another two weeks because of the wound on my right knee and the bruise on my left hip and I was just pissed off.

Normally Chicken Creek is my refuge. Skiing there every day definitely brightens my outlook on snow and makes winter bearable.

This year, I couldn’t even motivate to get myself out the door and onto my skis. I went three times, had lovely experiences and then just couldn’t muster it up to try to stay warm outside when I could fire up the woodstove and remain warm in my own living room.

I stopped running because I kept falling down. So I remained inside to be safe and got total cabin fever and went a little crazy.

I went out to Sand Canyon in February and it was beautiful and warm and I lay on the slick rock in shorts. Suddenly, I was a nicer person. I decided that I actually do like my children. I thought maybe I could get out and perhaps socialize a little bit. And I definitely got excited about running again.

And then, the next day, it snowed and my attitude went straight down the tubes.

There are a few hints of things changing. Apparently the turkey vultures are here (although, as of this writing, I have yet to see one – which, of course, hurts my feelings.)

Calves are being born. The redwing blackbirds are going nuts. I saw a bluebird.

I drove to Durango at 7 this morning. The way the early sunlight was hitting the roadside hillsides made them look green from afar. It was almost an illusion because when you looked right at them, all you could see was brown. On my way back, at 9, I was excited to check it out again, but it was totally socked in with ice-laden fog.


My parents, who have lived in Idaho for the last 27 years, have just come to the realization that they no longer need to suffer and are moving, in five days, to my mom’s hometown in…yes, Florida.

They are so excited – not one single second- guess. Idaho currently is grey and uncomfortably freezing, and dark.

Hibiscus, warm, ocean breezes in the palms, sunshine. Water. If it doesn’t rain, they don’t need to panic. They don’t have to be torn between knowing that they need it to snow and being thankful that it’s not. As a matter of fact, they don’t have to worry about it snowing at all.

I have honestly thought about following them down there. I’ve asked repeatedly if they need me to be closer to take care of them. Who begs to give up their life to go take care of their elderly relatives? Apparently, in the winter, I do. Unfortunately for me, they are in great shape and don’t need me.

I understand that I am aging and there are some bits of life that with the aging, become a bit more difficult, but I’m not sure that I ever believed it would happen to me.

So then I decide that it’s not about age at all – it’s common sense – who wants to be uncomfortable? Who wants to suffer? Who wants to wear all of those layers?

Who doesn’t want to be traveling across warm sand and rock, with just one thin Tshirt, getting fresh air on their skin? My derma is suffocating. It might even start to slough off. Olive skin is supposed to be olive, not grey-green.

In order to stay “occupied” this winter, I have watched two HBO series: “ROME” and “Game of Thrones.” They are basically the same story; fighting for “the crown,” sex, sword play, sex, intrigue, sex and more spraying blood than a Quinten Tarantino movie. But, I have learned something and that is this: the folks in “Game of Thrones” are from “the North.” They wear multiple layers of fur and skin. They sit in huge stone castles with fires burning in every room. They have sex with their clothes on. They eat vast amounts of flesh.

The good people of “ROME” run around in extremely short tunics with not much underneath. They wear sandals – even in battle. The women wear diaphanous dresses, with not much underneath. They eat olives and fruit salad. They reside in rooms where palm trees grow and few walls exist between the living quarters and the sea. They’re constantly naked.

Suddenly, it all made sense…I am Italian! Right?

I’m not from the monochromatic hinterlands? I’m from the gloriously colorful Mediterranean and am not genetically engineered to endure bleak. I am born to be warm and to have bougainvillea in my boudoir.

At least now I understand. I can quit fighting the “Suzanne, you should be thankful that we just got another 2 feet of snow and you will be shoveling for another month,” and, “Suzanne, when did you turn into such a weenie?”

I can embrace, proudly, that trying to enjoy winter is going against my nature, and that I am a winter buzz-kill who is descended from some of the most beautiful, swarthy, conniving, manipulative and sex-crazed people who ever walked the earth.

Suzanne Strazza is an essayist and humorist in Mancos, Colo. She has a blog, Single in the Southwest, at suzannestrazza.wordpress.com.