Cabin Fever, A New England Transplant’s Winter Manifesto

Four score and 20 days ago, I went outside.

By New England standards, this has been a fairly mild winter. However, I am still growing winter legs from the amphibious like stumps that were buried under my west coast DNA. Well into our fourth winter in Vermont and my favorite part of the season is its late-March or early-April death.

The children are a split. Two born in Los Angeles; two born in Vermont. Two who constantly ask when we are returning to Universal Studios; two who eat blocks of cheddar cheese and beat our fence with homemade clubs fashioned out of the branches of fallen tree limbs.

The closest to winter I ever experienced as a child was while briefly living in Virginia. I remember thinking that the best part of the season was that the stash of chocolate I hid in my coat never melted. As far as I can tell, this may still be the best part of this season. Cold chocolate and laundry that can sit and sit and sit in washing machines without mildewing. Winter “magic”.

I’d like to say that moving to a state that wears winter like a bear wears its full coat in…well, winter would be just the toss into the deep end of the pool this seasonally challenged mother needed. Unfortunately, I’m stubborn when it comes to frostbite and buying a $22 pair of socks. Also, I am too short to pull off the snow bunny look. Snow Oompa Loompa? ON IT.

We have lived here since the eldest was 2. She is currently bounding toward 7, and despite my winter troll-like tendencies, has started to develop an appreciation for winter. She no longer cries when placed in the snow. Every snowman, woman and child on our property was made by her as I watched from the window with my coffee, occasionally tossing carrots, hats, gloves, scarves and thumbs up of praise out of the back door. She is ice skating, cross country skiing and participating in a Winter Survival course through our local Recreation and Parks Department. Through her, I’ve learned that, apparently, winter survival is not sitting at a ski lodge drinking hot toddies while watching snow people throw themselves down hills on metal shoe boats. Who knew?

She wears each new bump, lump and bruise as a badge of winter awesome and her rosy cheeks shine like a beacon of hope making me think that maybe this winter thing isn’t so bad. Maybe, just maybe, I can learn to love this season. Then, I step outside to draw a deep breath of fresh air and my lungs crystallize and the eyelashes that I bothered putting mascara on, crack and break into a million pieces; falling like black snow toward my already frozen in place feet.

My snow boots say Joan of Arc, but, my heart says pink, lawn flamingos. In between my boots and heart, I have several, small people hanging from my limbs asking why I keep looking online at the condo market in Palm Springs.

One child’s love of winter developing. 3 more to go. This may be more painful than potty training, but, with luck and lots of practice, the snow people I one day watch from the roar of the lodge lounge fire, throwing themselves down the mountain, just may be my own.

My yard. My Flamingos. Everyone’s reminder that I’m classy and, “not from ’round these parts.”


  1. Love it!

  2. An appreciation for winter is something I still need to learn myself, my kids however are fully on board for anything involving snow and ice!

  3. I am a born and raised New Yorker, with 3 years in Charlotte and now 7 in Chicago. One good snowfall – with staying home, watching movies, relaxing. etc (does this happen with kids?) is all I need. I’ll take a Charlotte winter any day!

    • That’s just it. Snow between Thanksgiving and Christmas is so lovely. If winter could just turn off its winter faucet after January 1st, I could do this! What season needs 6 months? Winter is such a diva.

  4. Good read! And, my sentiments about winter exactly! 🙂

  5. Anonymous says:

    Awesome, fun read… So that trip to new york was to meet with the publisher? Right? 🙂

  6. If only you were in Illinois. Monday/Tuesday this week were both in the 60’s. Temps drastically dropped yesterday, now it’s 15. Just when we start to get used to the cold, good ol’ Mother Nature throws us a curve ball. Then she bitch slaps us, as if to say, “Did you really think I was going to let you off that easy??” I think it would be easier to just have the cold all the time so we didn’t have false hope! Love your flamingos!

    • Love the bitch-slap by Mother Nature line. It’s been that way here too. This winter has a very serious case of bi-polar disorder which compliments everyone’s vitamin D deficiency in the most lovely way.

  7. I’m a Texas girl, born and bred. When we first moved to NC about 14 years ago, I LOVED the winter – what with that magical, white stuff falling from the sky (yes, I realize our winters here do NOT compare to your winters in Vermont) but now? Now I am done with it. I think winter should just be abolished.

  8. I’m from Texas and dreamed of living somewhere that had a REAL winter – with snow and sledding and puffy winter clothes. My wish was granted when we moved to Utah for my husband’s job 6 years ago. My second winter I found myself watching the snow fall and fall and fall and I thought I was going to start chanting “redrum” any minute. We moved to central California a year ago and I can honestly say I don’t miss REAL winter.

    • You totally had me at redrum. The overlook hotel elevator doors open here every February and a sea of snow tumbles out. All snow and no sun makes everyone Vitamin-D deficient. That’s not a snazzy saying, but, it’s all I got.

  9. Death to winter!!!!!
    And? I NEEEEEED pink flamingos. It shall be my birthday wish!
    <3 Devan

  10. I too am not a fan of the winter and have lived in NY all my life. That said I am like you watching the snowmen and snow playing occur from my window. Give me 100% and summer any day over the snow and the cold, but that is just me!!

    • Right there with you, sister. I often talk about one day making out dining room wall that faces the yard sliding glass doors so that I can sit on a couch with hot beverages and watch the kids play for the entire winter. I’ll be like a groundhog that only emerges to replace snow soaked mittens.

  11. Winter sucks. The end.

  12. My favorite line: Snow Oompa Loompa? ON IT.
    I actually snorted and laughed out loud – it scared my kids a little 😀

  13. I bet it IS hard being a transplant. I’ve was born and raised in Vermont and have grown to love the winter. Well, most of it. I hate the driving part. I’ve heard many out-of-stater remark, “I don’t know how you people live here”!!

  14. please excuse the typo. “I” was born and raised

  15. More difficult than potty training, indeed – we actually like using the toilet. Teaching them to like something we know is Mother Nature’s cruel joke is much more difficult to pull off. I’ve lived in the Snow Belt (if that’s a thing) my whole life, and I still have 2 children who despise it, who whine the moment their boots touch their feet. Probably because I do, too. 😉

  16. I have no love for winter, especially right now. Now when I’m finally done with Christmas decorations, taking down the last twinkly lights, resigning myself to a month of freezing followed by a month of teasing (and mud), waiting for mid-April to bring back my hopes for a bright, hot summer.

    • That’s exactly it. It’s just too damn long. March is terrifying here when there’s that first sunny day and everyone that was under their rocks busts out of doors wearing flip flops and sleeveless tees after months of brownie mix and desolation. April is where it’s at.

  17. I am a Midwest transplant to Colorado, and the weather here is mild and lovely. People think CO is cold and snowy, but it’s not unusual to have a handful of days each winter month in the 50s and 60s. So my problem is, whenever I go back to the Midwest during the winter, I flip the f-ck out and think I am dying because it is so cold it hurts to breathe. Funny how quickly you forget what you grew up with so easily…

    • “So cold it hurts to breathe!” That should be the official state slogan for Vermont in February. I have family in Colorado. It’s beautiful. Every Feb/March, I get snow bird fever and dream of living anywhere else, but, then April hits and I fall in love all over again. When will I learn? Answer…never. Thanks for reading, Stephanie. Enjoy your mild winter (grumble, grumble)

  18. come on you’re a vermonter now…spring for the darn tough socks 🙂

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