One day this week I was walking around in shorts and a T-shirt, and the next day I had to bundle up like a polar explorer. This weird New York winter has featured the most fluctuation in temperature that I can ever remember and, according to the meteorologists, none of this is going to change anytime soon.
Back in December dreaming of a white Christmas seemed an impossibility because of the temperate weather. In January – forget about the traditional thaw – we had balmy days and nights, but then some wicked winter weather came flowing in from the north and it was parka time.
We all got fooled once again when that fickle fink Punxsutawney Phil saw his fat little shadow and proclaimed six more weeks of winter, but I have never trusted that glorified rodent anyway. Ever since Groundhog Day, New York has been on a weather roller coaster and I want to get off.
Years ago, I used to have a great system. I would make room in my closets and drawers by bringing my summer clothing down to the basement storage area and bring my winter clothing upstairs. That worked for a long time, but now I find myself raiding the bin for shorts and T-shirts. On some days I am running outside in shorts, hitting the cold air, and then going back to throw on a winter coat. Going to the store in a winter coat and cargo shorts definitely gets some strange reactions from people, but that's what this wacky winter is doing to me.
Still, today when I went outside for the morning paper, the wind hit me like a frozen hammer. I know Chicago is called the Windy City, but lately we are being pummeled by 40 to 50-mile-an-hour winds that are knocking down trees, blowing garbage cans across state lines, and making the wind-chill factor positively polar.
Physically people are being challenged by this weather, but the psychological damage is more overwhelming. If I go out with a light jacket in the morning because it is 60 degrees, I am not certain I won’t need my parka by evening because the weather keeps shifting so dramatically. If I don’t plan ahead, I am freezing my tuchus off all the way home. Not knowing how to dress each day is not only annoying but can be stressful, and compound that with the fact that people are already depressed because of the gloomy weather that keeps being briefly and cruelly interrupted by these summer like 70 degrees days.
Yesterday the cold swept back into New York, and this morning my handy dandy kitchen digital thermometer (which has a sensor located outside and inside) indicated the house was 70 degrees but the porch outside was just 15 degrees. Despite these arctic conditions, I was determined to keep to my morning routine.
At the local coffee shop, where I can go get a cup of joe and a bagel with a schmeer but also hear an array of opinions on everything happening in politics and sports, everyone’s favorite topic to complain about is always the weather.
There I usually encounter the all-knowing Manny, the old Brooklyn Dodgers fan who still has a patch of grass taken from Ebbets Field in a window box outside his apartment window. Yesterday he was wearing an LA Dodgers cap, a Mets sweatshirt, Jets sweatpants, and Knicks gloves (his NY Rangers jacket hung over the back his chair) as he sat at the table reading the NY Post and drinking a cup of coffee.
I like to kid around with Manny, whose face is like the late Abe Vigoda’s but less happy looking, so this morning I walked up to him and he glanced at me and then looked back at the newspaper.
"Are the Rangers making the playoffs?"
"Is Macy's in Herald Square?"
I asked, “What are the Mets’ chances this year, Manny?”
“Snowball in hell, as always. Wright is done and they got pitchers with glass arms.”
“How about the Knicks making the playoffs?”
“Ha,” he snickers, “maybe when the fans run Jackson out of town on a rail.”
“How about the Jets letting all these guys go?”
“It’s a fire sale,” Manny chuckles. “They might as well get Tebow back because he’s better than what they got and he's not going anywhere with the Metsies.”
Now I am ready to ask the most pressing question. “What do you think about this crazy weather? Is it global warming?”
He doesn’t look up from his paper. “I don’t know about this global warming crap, but one day I’m sweating my balls off and the next day I got icicles on my nose. I don’t know if I’m coming or going anymore.”
As usual, Manny sums things up succinctly. I said "Goodbye" to Manny, zipped up my parka as I left the coffee shop, and battled the freezing wind that hit me like a nasty left hook every time I turned a corner. Now, I understood why this winter has me feeling so off kilter. One day it’s like a soft, warm kiss and the next day like a cold, hard punch, making me uncertain whether I should be leaning forward or getting ready to duck.
Sixteen days left until spring, but who’s counting?