A Winter's Tale

According to a recent poll, Americans think winter is the pits. Indeed, winter's approval rating has dropped to 17 percent - the lowest approval rating of any season ever - and only three Americans plan on voting for winter in the 2010 midterm election.

To put winter's dire straits in context, consider that summer's numbers didn't even drop this low in 1816, the infamous "Year Without a Summer" (when summer whiled away June through September in Vegas, heedless of how its irresponsible behavior might affect crops and suntans throughout the northern hemisphere).

True, the poll I mentioned wasn't particularly scientific - or even particularly real, seeing that I made it up in order to appear authoritative - but I think it's safe to say that winter gets a worse rap than spring, summer, or fall. And while a fictional 17 percent of Americans might argue that winter doesn't deserve its bad rap, I've found myself thinking more and more that it does.

For instance, about a year ago, I used this space to denounce winter in the Midwest - where I went to school - as "a cold, bleak snooze-fest." I claimed that, as a downhill skier, I loved winter in the Adirondacks, but insisted that spending winter in the barren flatlands of Ohio appealed to me about as much as attending a Barry Manilow concert - and while I love Barry Manilow's records, his live show is the pits.

But since returning to Saranac Lake, I've realized that Dean Martin had it right - "absence" really does "make the heart grow fonder." I only thought I loved winter in the Adirondacks because I didn't have to put up with it for a few years. I idealized Adirondack winters, failing to remember that, while they might offer world-class skiing, they're essentially as cold, bleak, and tedious as Midwestern winters.

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