Updated: Mar 8, 2020
Photo by Joshua Reddekopp for Unsplash
Am I the only person who thinks we’ve had more cloudy or rainy days than sunny ones this winter? It’s been gloomier than usual. Is it just me, or have you noticed it too?
Winters are always tough on the east end. Our long island sticks out far into the Atlantic and exposes us to the elements. I don’t mind that. I’m thrilled when a snowstorm is predicted. As I check my flashlight batteries, gas up my car, and hoard water, I mimic Harry Potter’s Hagrid in the thickest northern England accent I can muster, “There’s a storm coming, Harry. And we all best be ready when she does.”
When I say it, the check-out girl at the Stop & Shop always looks at me askance. It’s not the correct response to “Do you have a rewards card?”
I love blizzards. I grew up in Niskayuna, NY, way upstate, where it would snow from September to April. Summer was just a quick thaw. I miss that weather. You can take the girl out of Niskayuna, but you can’t take the winter out of the girl.
If we’re not going to have a blizzard, I’d prefer sunny skies. Clouds make me cranky. This all stems from the six years Mr. Hockey (my current husband), our four hockey pucks (our current children) and I lived in London. Before Mr. Hockey’s boss moved us to London, I didn’t need a sunny break from winter. But after one or two years there, I felt my vitamin D dip as soon as we changed the clocks to standard time.
London gets dark earlier than New York. On rainy or cloudy days – that’s every day in London – we turned on the lights at three in the afternoon. Winters were a depressing slog for everyone. There were reports that the third Monday in January was the busiest day of the year for British travel agents. What’s surprising about that statistic is the Brits still use travel agents.
I knew how they felt. After a bleak weekend screaming at our little puckers, I spent those third Mondays in January desperately scouring the internet for cheap and cheerful trips to places like Morocco. One word of advice here: Morocco is a wonderful, warm, sunny country to visit, but do not go cheap and cheerful. Our hotel’s “fresh” towels were often damp. Do yourself a favor, pay a little more for the dry towels. Also, electricity. The hotel lost power at least once. Pay the upcharge. You’ll thank me for the round-the-clock electricity.
The first winter we were back in East Hampton was glorious. There were many sunny days, except for the blizzard that dropped three feet of snow on us. They called it a “snowicane.” We even had “thunder snow.” And after it blew over, the snow sparkled in the sunshine. The glare bouncing off the five-foot snowbanks on Main Street was so bright, I nearly crashed when I went to town to buy a lighter snow shovel.
That winter was fun. This winter has been boring. No snow angels. No panicked tv meteorologists. No governor’s declarations of states of emergency. Just clouds, rain, and more clouds. I can feel my vitamin D waning. I’m thinking about hiring a travel agent.
A travel agent or even the internet’s travel booking capabilities is a good way to get over the winter blues. Studies have shown that the mere anticipation of upcoming travel makes people happier. I was supposed to go to China in March, but obviously will not be going due to their current epidemic. It’s probably best, since all I could have looked forward to is Tamiflu, face masks, and reading my airline’s refund policy.
Many Hamptons snowbirds migrate south for part or all of the winter. Some of my friends have left for Florida, Mexico or Costa Rica. Recently, a friend told me, “St. Bart’s was too expensive, so we settled on Palm Springs,” for their vacation.
Ahhh, Palm Springs. A hot desert. Cheaper than St. Bart’s and still cheerful. Just like Morocco but with dry towels. And electricity.
During this overcast uneventful winter, I wish I could convince Mr. Hockey to fly to warmer climes for a while. But then he wouldn’t be living up to his moniker. His name is Mr. Hockey, not Mr. Lounge-by-the-Pool.
Mr. Hockey plays hockey wherever/whenever he can. This time of year, he goes to Buckskill Winter Club in East Hampton to play in their league games, their drop-in games, and their lunch-time clinics. He loves the open-air skating. And he loves it more on cloudy days because sunshine melts ice.
That’s all great for Mr. Hockey, but what about Tracy, the hockey widow? What about my needs? What’s a Niskayuna girl to do when the sun won’t shine, and the clouds won’t snow? I could wear my pajamas inside-out, like the little puckers used to do when they were wishing for a snow day.
Or I could head west and go skiing in the Rockies. Mr. Hockey is willing to miss some puck time for the slopes. He’s partial to all winter sports, except curling. It’s not a sport.
It’s not the third Monday in January, but it looks like I’ll be perusing the internet for flights to the mountains for my snow and sunshine. Maybe I’ll hire a travel agent. Maybe I’ll change my name to Mrs. Ski.
East Hampton Press, February 5, 2020