Driving with my wife, Vera, and son, Jack, down Route 25 in Calverton on Sunday, I witnessed a picturesque scene: Two women on cross-country skis gliding up the bike path at the Enterprise Park at Calverton, while rays of sunlight pierced through the trees around them.
For a moment, I thought to myself, “Where is my camera? I must turn around.” Then I kept driving.
There’s a reason I didn’t want to stop. The temperature reading on my dashboard told me it wasn’t worth it.
I sometimes wonder if the car manufacturers who first decided to install dashboard thermometers realized they had invented the single most depressing piece of automobile technology. Wheel locks, interlock devices and The Club have each been known to bring more joy to the average driver than a thermometer that reads 2 degrees in February and 102 degrees in July.
When I decided a decade ago to move back to my native Long Island from sunny Los Angeles, a big draw for me was the return of changing seasons. The first time I had ever experienced rain in L.A. was after a period of significant drought. It was actually the one-year anniversary of the day I moved there. I can still remember driving up the 5 freeway that day and passing crash after crash. No one knew how to drive on your typical rainy day.
Though I enjoyed wearing a fall jacket in December and flip-flops in March, I longed for a cold winter day during my four years in southern California. Then two feet of snow fell in my first week back and I was officially done with winter.
The truth is, I never did like snow. My mother always jokes that it would take longer to get me dressed in my snowsuit as a kid than the time I would actually spend playing outside. I only really ever frolicked in the snow because I knew a cup of hot chocolate would be waiting for me when I walked back through the front door.
When my brother and his daughter came to visit last winter they built an igloo in my parents’ front yard in Ridge. I stood at the window and watched in disgust. “How could we be related?” I wondered.
Lucky for me, that gene appears to have skipped my 14-month-old son. We took him outside to play in the snow twice this winter. His initial curiosity about the snow slipping through his fingers quickly turned to disinterest. Like his dad, he’s more of an indoorsman. We retreated inside, where he turned to his usual pastime of placing random household objects in his mouth.
Unfortunately, this job doesn’t allow me to avoid the cold completely. While out on an assignment in below-zero temperatures late one night last week, I tried desperately to take a long-exposure photograph. When nothing clicked, I looked down to check the power button. Seeing my camera was on, I realized my index finger was too cold to apply enough pressure to the shutter button. I spent the next 15 minutes thawing out in my car before giving it another go.
My lack of enthusiasm for freezing temperatures is an occupational hazard because online readers really love weather stories. If you’ve ever wondered why local news sites post non-stop stories about the weather — “BREAKING NEWS: Patch.com’s hour-by-hour forecast” read the subject line of one email I received this month — it’s because so many people click on them. If we published a story titled “More snow on the way” the same day as “Town official resigns amid scandal” the page view count would end in a photo finish that night — unless, of course, that scandal was somehow related to blizzard conditions, in which case everyone would read that story.
I suppose that’s why every conversation you’ve ever had with a stranger contains a sentence about the weather. Temperatures and precipitation are things we all live with, are occasionally inconvenienced by and have strong feelings about. Weather is like politics, except sometimes it leaves you feeling warm.
Vera and I were recently discussing a vacation to Florida we have planned for next month. Other than a trip to Disney and a spring training game or two we might catch that week, we’re mostly just looking forward to lying out by the pool.
“This trip can’t come soon enough,” I said.
“Yeah, but once we return, it will still be cold here,” she replied.
That, my dear reader, is called rubbing rock salt in someone’s wound.
The author is executive editor for Times/Review Newsgroup. He can be reached at [email protected] or 631-354-8046.