Winter Perfection

It started in early November. The week the time changed.

Something was different. People around the office remarked about it: Darkness had arrived before we'd even left for home.

Winter will already be deep set by the time the calendar says it's so. Darkness will wrap our ever-shortening days like the big fuzzy blanket we keep by the couch. That's where we'll stay — at home, under an afghan, watching Hot in Cleveland — until April. It's depressing. But this year, I won't take it lying down.

Besides calling us miserable, Forbes online dubbed us the worst winter weather city in the U.S. It says we get an average of 60 inches of snow each year. Sounds ugly, huh?

But winter and misery don't have to go hand in glove. We beat out Boston, New York, Milwaukee and Chicago for that top spot. More snow, colder temps? Perfect, because you can't ski on mud. Snowshoes work best in the snow. It takes ice to go ice fishing.

Maybe my brain hasn't completely thawed from last December, when our family spent a few days in Chicago. We shopped. We walked to restaurants. We skated (albeit indoors). And it was freezing, colder than I ever remember here. It also changed my thinking: Winter is merely a state of mind.

I've always enjoyed bundling up to clean off my drive and sidewalks. It's about the only time I get to see my neighbors in winter. Long ago, I'd hit the open skate at Winterhurst Ice Rink in Lakewood before work. My blades are dull from lack of use, but I want to try out the monster rink (and white bean chili) at Akron's Winter at Lock 3.

My daughter's third-grade class took a November field trip to Lake Metroparks' Chapin Forest to learn about dog sledding. I want to take her back when there's snow on the ground to see it like a musher might. Maybe we can try out snowshoeing on a woodland trail. And if I get really adventurous? I want to learn to ski or snowboard.

I know, at my age, that seems a little crazy. But it'd be a great way to counter the ever-shortening days until that first big snowfall — which may not be that far off. Two of our largest single-day snowfalls in the past 10 years happened this month (10.2 inches on Christmas Eve 2002 and 9.4 inches on Dec. 22, 2004).

So bring it on, Old Man Winter. This year, we'll be ready.

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