Ever since November has come around I have been fearing the cold. I have shivered at the thought of putting on two extra layers, and a hat and mittens. I have been grossed out by the prospect of how long yet another winter in New York would be.
But now it’s January. We had spring-like temperatures in November. We had 10 Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) on New Year’s Day. And we had a wonderful warm, sunshiny day last Saturday. I am beginning to wonder what the lack of cold means for the rest of this year. So far, this has only been my second winter in New York.
Last year had been quite the opposite: After the summer of the century, the winter of the decade followed brutally and without much of a forewarning. Snow chaos one day after Christmas. Streets left uncleared days after the storm. Subways, which weren’t operating, and snow days at work. Feet-high piles of the white wonder which could not disappear to anywhere – not back onto the streets it had come from and not to the sideways which were still blocked themselves.
It had all started quite innocently on December 26th, when the first flakes of snow had come tumbling down the sky.
“Oh, how beautiful – your first snow in New York!” my German friend had exclaimed. She was visiting me together with her sister, and both had had their share of snow in Deutschland already for the year 2010. However, this was my very first snow in the Big Apple and I was pretty excited. But for some reason, the snow decided not to stop but rather to keep on coming down from the sky. During late afternoon we were fighting our way through a full-blown blizzard when coming from the post-Xmas-shopping spree (not worth it!) on 5th Ave. At night time I received a call from a friend who couldn’t make it out to his apartment in New Jersey. Both tunnels were closed and there was no way of getting across the bridge to the other state. He had to stay over in my place, which was slowly but surely turning into something resembling a youth hostel. We crammed together a few blankets and air mattresses but my friend and I thought we had to work tomorrow so we didn’t stay up as late as the others did. Of course the next day was a snow day. Snow day meant a work-free-day in New York.
The next day, I remember wandering around deserted Times Square which was covered underneath a still fluffy white blanket. I remember slipping when trying to cross streets. Then checking out Century 21, possibly one of those few stores open during that time. More snow coming down on December 27th. New Year’s Eve had indeed turned into a mess for those who stayed in the City. Philly was a bit warmer.
And then January of 2011: Bittercold wind howling through the streets. So frosty that even the weather-proof
BelaRussians did not want leave the house unless they really had to. I truly got to understand the meaning of wearing a hat: Not for the sake of looking good but for the sake of keeping your ears warm and your mind sane. There is nothing worse than cold wind that blows through one ear and escapes through the other –leaving your brain at a cold temperature. That is possibly also the reason I bought a fur-coat with a hood this year: After seeing how practical a knee-long coat was that offered the possibility to keep the wind away from your head, I was easily convinced to buy something equally practical for this winter. Up until then, I never understood the countdown advertised all around New York. “The countdown is on, 120 more days until winter ends,” I heard on the radio and read on subway ads all over the city. But those two months in the beginning of the year, I’m telling you, they really made you believe that counting down days to spring is the only option you have to mentally survive!
And while winter in Europe starts to clear up in February, this month is the worst on the American East Coast. I thought it couldn’t get frostier after December or January. But February pretty much topped it all: Getting outside was a true torture! Walking around Manhattan for no reason was not an option for me. Going out, having fun, or partying meant running from one bar or one club to another. It was definitely one of the worst but also one of the most entertaining times of my stay here. You really start appreciating the plans you have for New York when the weather is utterly disgusting outside. You start missing every minute of the past summer and start loathing the time spring will show up. Which of course was a long time from then, but how could we have known?
So, that was how winter in New York in 2010/2011 had been.
A nice contrast to what it is right now. I just started wearing a hat this morning. Not even for the purpose of necessity but just because it got “a little too cold” outside. Last Saturday felt like spring in March: People were wearing sweaters, dresses, or T-Shirts and strolling around Prospect Park and the Slope. In the beginning of January! If winter is truly to last until March, then we have about two more months to go. Two more months that might resemble winter. This year it just doesn’t appear to be very extreme. This being said, I’ m not sad anymore I never made it out to Jamaica in January. It has indeed been so mild I am not even getting the winter blues I had last year. The sun likes to shine very brightly now, feeding us with hope that spring will come around. I guess I’ll save that money up and spend it on other travels I intend to do during the rest of the year!