No, we do not get to enjoy 90 day slices of seasonal variety, no gentle transitions through the four seasons, no easy enjoyment of the freshness of Spring after a tolerably short Winter, not here, not up in the Northland, oh no, we have two seasons; winter and construction.
You think I exaggerate? Hardly. This year the snow hit before thanksgiving, and pretty hard at that. We have had snow after snow, with barely a three day break without at least a dusting.
And cold? Where do I begin? Real temps in the -20 to -30 range with wind chills that just sound ridiculous. Did I mention wind? Lots of wind, bone chilling frostbite and die wind.
Up here we can expect the average winter to end sometime around April 15th. We have experienced blizzards as late as early April. The worst year, we had a blizzard on Halloween, then to add insult to injury, March is traditionally our heaviest snow month. Really, I’m not kidding.
Just imagine the unbounding joy of a winter that begins on October 31st, and continues till tax day. 5 1/2 months.
Cabin Fever, Snow Fever, Spring Fever. . . I got it all!! Around mid-February, depression sets in. It’s still dark fully half of the day, cold, bleak frozen, and almost perpetually gray when it’s not dark. We do get some sun, but at a price. The price? You guessed it, those lovely bone chilling temps I mentioned before. Yesterday, February 10th, we awoke to a delightful 21 degrees below zero. I got the fever baby, I got the fever.
Now for the second part of life up North, our other season: CONSTRUCTION. This year, even with the early snow and intense cold, projects were not fully wrapped up until about December 7th. With today’s modern construction techniques, they work well into the cold, and you guessed it! Start very early, as in even before winter “ends” on March 20th.
During our relentless winter, the season to follow is never out of mind, or for that matter, out of sight. Construction season is so long, that on the largest projects, they leave the equipment out, poised and ready for another 7 month assault of traffic delays and detours.
There they sit, dark looming shadows, you see them in the distance as you draw near, like characters from the latest Transformers film, waiting to whir to life and pounce. The seemingly endless delays and detours are heralded months before they start, by orange signs telling you when the misery begins, and how incredibly long it is going to last. The signs should be going up any day now. Roads that were repaired a few short years ago will be torn up, rebuilt, and in another few years, rebuilt again.
Throughout Europe and the British Isles, there are Roman roads that are still in use, two thousand years after they were built. Why can’t we get a road to last for fifty, or even twenty?
Well, I have a few scant weeks to ponder that fact, sullen, depressed and wan, as I await the end of winter and the signs of the next season: DETOUR AHEAD.