Friday, November 27, 2009

The approach of winter

We who live in Milwaukee love to talk about the weather. Good, bad it's all the same but I definitely feel that the trajectory of the discussion is different than in many other American cities.

I'm not at all sure that citizens of other non-Midwestern cities are so intent on taking "the glass is half empty"he approach to the onset of winter. I doubt very much that the people in Dallas, Los Angeles, or Asheville, North Carolina takes such a delight in commiserating that the snow is ready to fly. Or could it be that a different type of precipitation or the relative level of humidity is the discussion du jour in those cities? Do their morning conversations go like this: "hey Harry, it's going to be 90 today and it's gonna be 90 for the rest of the week too. What say we head up north somewhere to take a break from this overbearing humidity".

But I live in Milwaukee so I interact with people who live in that city. It's never exactly that "the sky is falling" unless you're listening to the local weather reports, but it does sometimes seem that the main topic of conversation is what poor weather we have. And, unfortunately, it's contagious. Like the flu that goes around every year which keeps the students and their parents locked up in their houses drinking plenty of fluids, when the first words out of somebody's mouth have to do with the amount of snow that fell last night or how many degrees below zero current lead is outside, it's not too difficult to breathe a sigh of submission and agree with the negative aspects of our geographical home turf.

Let me be clear about one point. I love Milwaukee! I've lived here for about the last 20 years; there's lots of things to see and do, it's close to a really big city (Chicago), which is pretty easy to get to, has almost no traffic and real estate prices are nowhere close to what they are on both coasts.

But I do sometimes have to admit that I'd rather be somewhere else during the months of January, February, and March. The analogy to our fellow mammals, the bear, is not too far off the mark. It seems that we bulk up our insulation starting at about Thanksgiving. Shortly thereafter, we start thinking about hibernation and planning all the things that we can do comfortably indoors. Sure, we venture out a bit to socialize with our friends or to go to a day job but it's not unusual to drive down a Milwaukee Street on a cold winters day only to find nobody visible to the naked eye. Upon further review, you may be able to locate some unhappy motorists kneeling down next to the site of their cars shoveling snow away from the tires. And of course you're going to see the die-hard dog walkers or crazy joggers who have more important fish to fry than just throwing in the towel, staying in and watching a video.

My parents have been snowbirds for about the last 10 years; spending spring, summer, and fall in a small city in lovely Pennsylvania on the Susquehanna River while retreating to the eastern shore of Florida to wait out the harsh four months of winter time. The stroke that my father experienced two years ago put the kibosh on that situation. My mother, who would describe herself as petite, doesn't have the energy nor the attitude necessary to assist my father in Florida by herself. She reminds me regularly that Vero Beach (the next city over from the city where they own a condo) is full of life, youth, the arts, and is a damn nice place in which to live. She does acknowledge a bit of selfishness in her suggestion but tries to convince me that once my wife, dog, and I get down there will absolutely love it. Ain't going to happen! I've been to Vero Beach and although it's not a bad place, it's not the place for me. As our friends George and Angela suggested "you should always have friends younger than yourselves. That will help keep you young.". Vero Beach doesn't meet that criteria.

So my wife and I (and our dog to a lesser extent) keep looking for our own winter retreat. Last year was our first exploratory mission; this year we boldly go in the same general direction. It seems like we've put a virtual thumbtack in North Carolina as a place which possesses many of the geothermal and geographical charms that we might just be looking for.

But, at least for the time being, Milwaukee is definitely home. Sometimes my wife and I look at each other and say "what the hell are we doing here". But then the sun comes out, the winter jackets come off, and spring is in the air.

1 comment:

Steve Towe said...

Well--as a 5th generation native of the Asheville NC countryside, a land specialist, and a Realtor for 21 years--I've helped dozens of folks like you realize that dream. Give me a call or email me at Phone is 828-274-3400