Rejoice for the Winter that Was

Long lines at Whole Foods in Union Square again. It feels like the Russian bread lines, but no, it’s another snowstorm shopping spree. I’m not the only one anxious about running out of food—even though the streets are always plowed before my stomach growls uncomfortably.

Everyone is complaining. Too cold, windy, snowy, sleety, Too much lashing out about de Blasio’s keeping schools open, too much criticism about him not closing schools (especially by the kids). Republicans are using this winter to persuade skeptics that global warming doesn’t exist. And my daughter’s college friend in Pennsylvania laughs at all the hoopla—she’s from Maine, where anything less than two feet is considered flurries.

I am coping with, embracing, even enjoying the snow. Especially since my daughter is 19 and I don’t have to shiver in Central Park while she sleds until near frostbite. I have found repeated warm winters disconcerting and disappointing. When neighbors grumble, “It’s another cold day,” I respond: “We live in New York. It’s winter.”

I love the four seasons, and play Vivaldi’s classic while I nest with my grocery store binge: Tuscan bean and garlic bread soup, beef chili with warm corn bread, granola with the comforting sweet smell of cinnamon.

Real winters took a vacation, and I’ve missed them. In 1994, I stared out at a frozen East River during 31 hours of labor. At each curb I lifted my daughter’s stroller over mounds of snow to cross the street. We have a few videos of her making snow angels in our back yard—and then we put our sweaters into storage for a long time.

As a kid growing up near Brighton Beach, I can recall my knee caps stinging because girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school. We lived in a two story attached house near Brighton Beach; when the snow drifts got high enough, my brother and I jumped off our porch, landing safely with squeals of laughter—while our mother freaked out, convinced we’d break multiple bones. We sledded down Suicide Hill, and if you weren’t careful, you could wind up in the service lane of the Belt Parkway. It was exhilarating to peel off our wet clothes and warm up with hot chocolate.»

Rejoice for the Winter that Was
Photo by by Eden

During one of the bigger storms this year, I felt cozy in a coffee bar on Lafayette Street, watching snowflakes through ten-foot windows. I could hear my late father’s voice, recalling the way he’d rescued a man stranded in a car during the ’47 blizzard in Brooklyn, the same onslaught that delayed my husband’s homecoming from his hospital birth on Long Island.

Snow can be a danger, a burden, a mess. It’s also miraculous to admire huge flakes cascade onto the ground, sticking out your tongue to catch one. And the next time someone complains about winter, I’m going to remind him: “In August you’re going to wish for snow again.”

Candy Schulman's essays have been widely published including Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, Lost and Found, Stories from New York, The New York Times, New York Magazine,, Newsweek, The Chicago Tribune, and Parents. She is a creative writing professor at The New School.

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§ 2 Responses to “Rejoice for the Winter that Was”

  • True, true! As my mother would have said, “What would we have to talk about if we didn’t have weather!” A gem of a piece by a wonderful writer!

  • Kate Walter says:

    Nice piece. We also had a “Suicide Hill” in Sandy Hill Park in Paterson, NJ,
    where I went sledding as a kid. If you went over this ledge, it was two
    story drop to the street.

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