Do you love it? Hate it? Tolerate it?
If I start to whine about the season, I can just hear Jack Nicholson challenging me: “You can’t handle the winter.”
So what do you say about winter: yay or nay?
“I love winter. I love everything about it,” says Kirk Rawles of Durango, formerly of even more winter-bound Breckenridge.
Perhaps he’s biased, being a skier and a ski coach. But he’s also a golfer and a golf coach.
“I can ski and golf on the same day (in the spring),” said Rawles, who embraces all seasons. “That’s why I moved to Durango. There’s not many places in the world you can do that.”
I didn’t have to go far to find people who don’t like winter. Three co-workers within 30 feet of me professed their dislike.
“I can give you a list of why winter (stinks),” says Laura Miller, an advertising representative.
Their sloping driveway causes frequent anguish when it ices up. Her husband fell and fractured his hip. Parked cars slide off without warning. When they park off-kilter because the car skids a little, the neighbors think they came home drunk.
Joan and Bob Pitmon, not unlike many retirees, hibernate in Arizona for the winter. Joan Pitmon is a lifelong Coloradan; the couple moved to Durango from Denver about 20 years ago.
“It’s just that we enjoy where it’s a little warmer,” Joan Pitmon said in a phone interview from Mesa, Arizona. “There’s a lot more things down here to do in the winter for us.”
OK, there are certainly naysayers. But let’s switch back to the yaysayers for a while. They’re just so darn positive about life.
“I love winter,” said Kim Oyler of Durango. Being a spokeswoman for Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort, what else could she say? But she sounded pretty sincere.
She said that when the mountains around DMR are pounded by huge storms, they’re generally followed by a “bluebird day.”
“I love the way (the San Juans) transform in the winter. ... I love to see Engineer Mountain completely covered with snow. It’s absolutely spectacular.”
You might think a guy who makes his living via golf would not be the biggest fan of winter. But when contacted on his cellphone last week, Hillcrest Golf Club head pro John Vickers was enjoying time away from the course. He was heading to the San Juan River in New Mexico for some flyfishing.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say I like or love winter,” Vickers said when he found a high spot with decent cellphone coverage. “I make the best of it.”
Vickers moved to Durango nine years ago from Florida, where he had spent most of his life. He enjoys the change of season here – something not so easily observed in evergreen Florida – but not the low sun.
“The thing I dislike the most is the (lack of) daylight hours more than the winter weather,” he said.
So how’s your winter going? Three weeks in, I’ve gotta say it’s been pretty mellow so far.
Wait, what? You think winter began yesterday? You still going by that old astronomical calendar? That’s so 1700s. OK, I’ll play along. The calendar does say winter began Dec. 21 this year – more specifically, at 4:03 p.m. MST.
But ask meteorologists (that’s people who study the weather, not things falling from the sky), and they will tell you that winter began Dec. 1.
The solstice’s large significance comes from being the day that the sun is lowest in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere. But for weather record-keeping and analyzing, the coldest part of the year is measured.
“We consider winter the months of December, January and February,” said Jim Pringle, warning-coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Grand Junction office.
The season can kill with cold or thrill with its beauty. It’s a pain to scrape snow and ice off your sidewalks and windshields, but it’s a blast to glide down on skis or sleds. It’s great to read a book next to a cozy fireplace, but it’s tough on the homeless and those with patched-together houses.
What can’t be ignored is that, despite any personal bias, we need winter. We need snow piling up in the high country, so it can melt in the spring and summer and fill our reservoirs and water our fields.
We need Nicholson telling us, as I’m sure you remember him firing back at Tom Cruise in “A Few Good Men”: “Winter’s existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. ... Deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want winter, you need winter.”
(You remember the lines a little differently? No, I’m pretty sure that’s what he said.)
As inconvenient as it might be, winter keeps us going through the year. We need the dark to appreciate the light. Pringle, the ever-cheerful weatherman, put it this way: “When you go through the winter season, especially when it’s a difficult one, it really makes you appreciate the summer weather more.”
email@example.com. John Peel writes a weekly human-interest column.