Don't even try talking to me before I've sucked down a couple of cups of coffee. Coffee must be sucked down while I'm out on the front porch, with a cheap cigar.
My first memory of winter, I had to be four years old.
There were five of us living in a one bedroom apartment, the front half of a converted attic. What parents in their right mind wanted three rambunctious kids, thirteen months apart in age, sitting around a three room apartment on any given day. I recall practically living on the streets and in the alleys.
One winter day I found myself out on the front porch. The porch was about seven feet in each direction. Low side walls made of brick, brick columns holding up the front of the small roof. I was dressed for winter. Hood of my heavy coat pulled over my head and scarf wrapped around so only my eyes peered out. I remember looking at my hands, thick mittens. On my feet were buckle up galoshes, my pants were tucked into them. It was usually just gym shoes inside the galoshes.
I couldn't see across the street, the snow was coming down hard and the wind was blowing it sideways. The porch offered no cover from this storm, small drifts were collecting against the low side walls.
I remember standing perfectly still, staring straight ahead, my arms perfectly straight against my sides and thinking, "I hate winter."
A few days shy of fifty three years later and I'm out on my front porch. Heavy coat on with hood pulled over my head. I don't do scarves any more. Gloves on, I hate mittens, that are rated to be good to below freezing. Slippers on my feet.
In my left hand is coffee, my right hand, the first cheap cigar of the day. A ritual I choose not to live without.
The wind is howling, but luckily no snow falling from the sky or on the ground. For as far as I can see, from the sky to the ground, nothing but varying shades of brown and gray. It's just ugly.
I stand perfectly still except for the lifting of one arm to suck down coffee and the lifting of the other to suck in smoke and I'm thinking, "I hate winter."
The coffee cup is empty, the cigar butt is tossed on the lawn. I turn and go back into the house.
A few days shy of fifty three years later, at least I have that option.