Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Is it winter already??!!

Ok, best intentions yesterday - but could not get the Internet to co-operate. Maybe it's because of the big meeting here in Suzhou?? Yes, the same one that has led to miraculously low pollution here - such a co-incidence that a visit from a bigwig almost always leads to better air quality!! And what was with the license plate deal - apparently, only cars with Suzhou plates were allowed on the roads for the last 3 days? Don't ask me why - seriously, who comes up with these rules?!!

We've been having real lovely weather here in Suzhou - nonstop rains, grey, overcast skies and absolutely no sign of the sun. Perfect weather to curl up with a book - except that, with so much to do - I don't really have that option!! The steady drip-drip of the rain has become a constant backdrop, and worse, temperatures are plummeting too - expected to drop to -3degC in the next couple of days! Freezing temperatures. In Suzhou. And it's barely end of November!! Brrrrr!!

And then, to add to my overall sense of well-being(!) - reports of snow in the Midwest. Not just a dusting, as would be expected in November - but a full fledged snow dump - almost a foot of snow in Peoria!! Snow in Peoria - well, why would that bother me - oh yeah, remember that tiny little detail?? I'll be moving there in less than a month!! And I dare not imagine what it's going to be like when we land there!! Hibernation is sounding pretty good at this point - sleep away the cruel winter months, dreaming of tropical vacations!!

Winters in Pune are pleasant - in fact, after the sweltering October heat, everyone is looking forward to that slight nip in the air, the misty mornings, the brisk evenings! Woolen clothes and blankets are dragged out from storage - and despite numerous airings, the lingering smell of moth-balls just never dissipates!! Weather reports were followed obsessively, and the forecast of a particularly cold night would send everyone into a tizzy - imagine, the temperature will drop to below 10Deg tonight!! Celsius - not Fahrenheit!! I know, not really 'winter' cold - but keep in mind - no floor heating, no insulation, no running hot water, windows always wide open - 10DegC can be much colder than it sounds!!

So from this balmy winter, I landed straight into the winter wonderland of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan!! Houghton - where the locals say the 3 seasons are last winter, this winter and next winter!! I still remember the thrill I felt the first time it snowed - and then seriously, it never stopped for about the next 5 months!! I would not have believed that so much snow could exist in one place!! I think I was in shock for pretty much all of winter - by April, the snowbanks were 6 feet high, and entire cars had disappeared under the snow!! Swift learning curve there - this is Winter!!!

At least, that first real winter in Houghton - I didn't know what to expect - ignorance certainly was a kind-of bliss!! Now, heading to Peoria, in the middle of December - I know exactly what we're heading to - and I am flat out dreading it!! The grey snowbanks, the grey sky, the grey trees - the short, short days. the weak, watery sunlight - the ice on the roads, shoveling the driveway - the piercing cold that slices straight to the bone!! No matter how many layers I wear, or how high I crank the thermostat, I can never, ever get warm enough - toes and fingers always numb, nose always freezing!! That hibernation is sounding better and better!!

Yes, winter is certainly not my favorite time of the year! I'm envisioning many days spent snuggling with Sunny, while Ajey and Manasi are off to office and school!! I know there's a lot of people who enjoy the snow - actually look forward to it - and I have to admit that this baffles me. Cold, icy snow vs warm, radiant sun - is there even a choice there??!! Anyway, choice or not - winter is what I have to look forward to - so the plan is to bundle up and stay indoors - possibly until April!! Stay warm, people!!

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