Downtown View:Winter Ahead

By Karen Cord Taylor

This is the week that seems to begin winter even though we know December 21 is the actual date.

So after the turkey is finished and the guests have gone, some people look ahead and see months of cold and bleakness.

I may have mentioned that I’m not that way at all. And I hear from many of you that a silent majority out there actually likes winter too. Here are some reasons.

First, the length of winter is way over-rated. It gets cold after Thanksgiving, but December is usually so busy that no one notices. And cold in December is unreliable. Even before global warming we’ve been in Arizona over the holidays in temperatures colder than Boston.

Spring breaks winter’s hold usually by the second week of April. Even if the temperature is low, the bulbs are beginning to flower. Reliable spring and summer last from May through most of October, so now the outdoor restaurants stay open well into the fall. It all adds up to a good six months of warm weather. So winter haters really have only January, February and March to endure.

To enjoy, rather than endure, it helps to make yourself cozy. It helps if you have a fireplace that works. If not, a few restaurants and hotels have fireplaces. Sometimes you can dine in front of them. Search out all the fireplaces you can.

Winter lovers actually hope for snow. Lots of it.  City dwellers  don’t have to suffer snow’s ill effects as do people who live elsewhere. The electricity never goes out on our street, although I’ve been told a few people in downtown Boston have had that experience.

Most of us don’t have to drive in the stuff. And if we’re in charge of shoveling, we have to do so for only the 18 feet in front of our building. Most of us don’t even have driveways, and even if we do we can usually leave the car where it is, sometimes until spring. Those who park on the street have a more difficult time. That’s when many residents start thinking Zip Car is a good idea.

Snow brings benefits. As it falls, it is beautiful, especially next to a nice street lamp. As it accumulates, it softens the noise. It brings out the neighbors to play or just walk around greeting everyone.

For the first few hours after a big snow, at least until the dogs start peeing and the snow banks begin attracting all kinds of soot and dirt, they are also beautiful. A blanket of snow that lasts all winter protects the plants beneath and waters those plants gradually in the spring as it melts. That water fills our rivers, reservoirs, wells and aquifers. One reason for this past summer’s drought was that we had too little snow last winter.

Winter brings another pleasure. It is dark early. So when you walk home from work or errands, you can peek into people’s windows and consider their décor.

Winter lovers long for a good zero-degree cold spell. The temperature kills the bad bugs that come up from the south.

Those who are most successful at winter use its advantages. They make snow ice cream. They ski or skate. One time, long ago, we skied all the way from the Longfellow Bridge to Harvard Square on thick ice on the Charles River. Winters may be too warm for that now, but we can always hope.

Another advantage of winter is the opportunity to enjoy all the performances—sports, theatre, lectures, music—and the galleries and museums and dinners with friends you miss in the summer because you want to be outside all the time or because friends go away.

I’ve always marveled at how few Bostonians who are active in their downtown community go away for the winter. They might head to some place warm for a week or two, but most people stay around most of the time.

            Maybe they like the cold and its advantages. Or maybe they like their close community, which we’re lucky to have here. There is nothing that can make one feel more warm and cozy than that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.