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Worrying about Winter Deficit Disorder

Punxsutawney Phil, in just another sign of the calamitous consequences of greenhouse gasses, predicted that we might have the probability of a possible chance of an early spring. But we haven't even had winter yet.

For my older brother and me, growing up in Georgia, a winter morning discovery of an icy coating on the dog's water bowl gave us as big a thrill as if we had summitted Mt. Everest and plunged the family crest into its snowy peak. In our elation, we crammed our feet into the bowl and skated them back and forth.

When bitter temperatures descended upon our area, freezing Singleton's Pond, a rather small, shallow body of water in the woods near our house, my brother and I hustled out there to test techniques first refined in the water dish. We did this despite my mother's stern warnings about thin Georgia ice. Our obsession with the fleeting joys of frosty conditions drove us to disregard her.

Besides, my tap shoes converted into remarkable ice skates. I whirled and twirled across the surface like Dorothy Hamill on valium, while dormant fish watched the performance from below.

Such days, filled with the tension of disobedience coupled with the chilly air, vaulted us to the very pinnacle of a perfect childhood. And we continued to revel in the friction between what we should do and what we desired to do, until the day I crashed through the ice and danced franticly amidst mud, fins and hibernating frogs. In a moment of panic and clarity, as I suddenly remembered my recital scheduled for later that evening, it crossed my mind what my mother meant by thin Georgia ice and that I was most likely now on it.

Still, we hung on every word of a weatherman forecasting anything remotely similar to a North Dakota February. When he uttered the words, "And for Tuesday expect that we might have a probability of a possible chance of wintry precipitation," we grabbed hold of hope like a lifeline.

Hope for snow. Hope for ice. Hope that it might last long enough to ensure an expected probability of a possible chance of school closure.

My husband, having spent a greater portion of his childhood in St. Louis, zipping down hills on his sled, pegging neighborhood kids with snowballs, building igloos and snow forts, shoveling his driveway, and wearing eight layers of clothing to school, has no comprehension of the dreadful disorder caused by extended deprivation of below freezing temperatures.

Our children already exhibit significant, telltale signs of Winter Deficit Disorder; an ailment almost certainly triggered by global warming. Since the irreparable damage in the ozone layer caused by hairspray in the eighties miraculously repaired itself, global warming, the latest evidence that humans aren't fit animals to inhabit the planet, has become the current scapegoat for all the world's ills; and I am not above riding on the hub of that rumbling bandwagon.

My kids romantically reminisce about ephemeral winters past, back before the heavy weight of melting polar icecaps rested on their young shoulders. One afternoon I overheard one child say to the others, "Do you remember the time Daddy broke icicles off the roof and we smashed them on the ground and rolled in them?" Heads dreamily nodded in unison, wishful for another frigid chance.

But, according to Al Gore and the groundhog, they probably won't get one this year.

Until the pontificates of global warming quit blowing hot air into the atmosphere, we'll mope around suffering from Winter Deficit Disorder and commiserating in the absolute misery of 33 degrees and raining.

Web posted on Thursday, February 15, 2007

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