My Coldest Year.


Canton, Pennsylvania, March 2nd, 2015-  It’s still very cold here.  Like, as cold as Alaska…no sh**.  I Googled it the other night back and the Arctic Circle was only 1 degree colder.  I thought that last winter was special and that it would be the coldest winter I would manage for years.  It turns out I was wrong but that kind of makes me want to talk about the last year or so.  I know that as I write this, I can hear it in my voice and I love the sound of my own voice.  Those of you who have heard my voice know that you can hear it in your head right now and you know you love it.

Pennsylvania, the state of my birth, has shown itself to be a brutal place to spend the winter.  Every bit as cold and snowy as upstate New York, in Fort Ann.  I saw -22 degrees there last January and I’ve seen similar temperatures since I got here in January.  Canton, where I can find most of my family on my Dad’s side, is a short drive from the woods where my Grandpa Chet Turner was born.  The folks around here are fun.  The fact that I’m related to most of them might have something to do with that.  That still doesn’t change how freaking cold it is.

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I kind of enjoy it, to be honest.  The love of brutal life that almost hurts to live runs sort of deep in me.  It’s the kind of weather that jeans aren’t warm enough for.  I have never felt anything as cold as the northeast.  Now granted, I’ve never been to the northern part of the Midwest for very long.  Most of my experience in states that get down colder than -22 has been lived in a Greyhound or an Amtrak, in relative comfort.  For Pete’s sake, I can’t understand why anyone would put themselves through that.

Anyhow, I’ve learned a few things about life in the cold.  Going, last winter from PA to New England, Denver and then the Rockies with naught but some hoodies and jackets was stupid.  It was miserable at times.  When I left Denver last June, I ditched my winter clothes until…well…actually, I broke them back out in August while I was hiking in Washington…for someone who grew up in Sneads Ferry and Topsail Island, it’s been a pretty chilly year.  It was really only a couple of months when I wasn’t looking at snow.  A huge shout of gratitude to my family and friends in Los Angeles and San Diego for providing me with a little beach weather.  Otherwise, the year pretty much looked like this…

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There was the short period of time where my year resembled this…

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There was another time where it looked kind of like this…

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But it was mostly things of this nature (this is snow in August, by the way)…

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If you’ve been reading my stuff from the beginning, you know that I anticipated a year in the lower latitudes.  I wanted to get on a boat in the Caribbean.  Instead, I wound up “exiling” myself to a long winter.  It almost seemed to be a metaphor for the frame of mind I was in.  I was hung over on the lifetime of an endless summer.  Everything “beachy” kind of got put off to the side.  It wasn’t intentional, I kind of went where I went because at the time, it was the place to go.  The thing is, along the way, I found friends and family, beauty, adventure, and a desire to share it.  Despite the temperature, great people and times kept me plenty warm.  When I wound up here…

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Or here…

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Or here…

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Or here…

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…I never felt the cold.

I’ve been broke, desperate and destitute, occasionally.  It wasn’t easy but it has been fun.  It has been cold and new.  I have been frozen and thawed so many times but I’ve never been more grateful for a warm radiator or wood stove and great people.  Despite my predisposition toward feeling miserable when it’s cold out, I’ve always felt like this (this particular picture was from San Diego, so it wasn’t cold but it kind of captures exactly what I mean)…

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Having said all of that, go find some friends like this,

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and go do things like this…

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but above all, remember to leave time to monkey around with Grandma.  In Florida.  Where there is no snow.

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