Thursday, January 17, 2008

Playing Hooky in the Snow

As I sit here watching the first snowstorm of the season pummel our area, I find myself confused. Following a rather mild holiday season with no white Christmas, no frosty New Years, and a tropical wave the second week of January, we were starting to wonder if we would have 6 more weeks of winter. It's far from Groundhog's Day but in the absence of winter weather, one's mind can't help but turn to thoughts of impending spring. Which is exciting, don't get me wrong. No one likes a mid-winter getaway more than me, and my father's persistent questioning about when I would visit him in Florida doesn't exactly make me want to go skiing. Granted, I've never been a skier anyway, given my unfortunate lack of hand-eye coordination and a general tendency towards physical "incidents" (accidents are usually thought of as having a contributory party, while my physical "incidents" are caused solely by my careless disregard for inanimate objects or laws of physics).

So anyway, as we were starting to wonder if we would get passed over completely this winter by snow, a generous pounding came down this morning and layered us with a beautiful white layer. Now, for the first time, it really feels like winter. It's not that we haven't had our share of blustery days or a nasty smattering of sleet here and there. It's just that winter isn't winter without some snow. I'm not asking for a January full of blizzards. Just some evidence that global warming hasn't forced snow to retreat to the far northern regions. Because I really enjoy having an excuse to sit down with my piping hot chocolate that inundated our house in holiday gift baskets. You know the kind, the expensive brands that you normally wouldn't buy because 1) the supermarket is generally limited to Swiss Miss and Carnation-type house brands, and 2) how many among us can justify bringing home a whopping carton of gourmet flavored cocoa that costs as much as a bottle of champagne and that you know you'll get halfway through before it goes stale. But when someone gives you a gift-sized can or individually wrapped packets of, say, Godiva or Bellagio (my new favorite), it's the perfect remedy for a cold day. Particularly when work piles up around you and you can't be bothered to start, let alone finish a project.

At least that's how I feel today. Work has piled up impressively on my desk, thanks to masterful procrastination for the past 8 weeks. Clients are waiting to hear back from me, and they're even really nice clients that I want to talk to. Trouble is, I just don't feel like talking to anyone today or doing anything productive. Now, just a day ago, I was a chatterbox, emailing my friends endless forwarded messages and planning get-togethers. But today is a different day. Today is the first real day of winter, at least in my book, and I want to do exactly what I just watched the kids outside my window do: go home, play hooky, and revel in the winter wonderland.

And that's when you really appreciate the ingenious winter fashions that designers stay up all night coming up with. Me, I would never invest in $400 fur-lined snowboots because I would hardly get to wear them. But I don't feel quite as guilty about lacing up a $100 pair because, if we have 3-4 snowstorms per winter, I can easily justify $25 per use. Besides, if they're a really cute pair, you can use them for another 2 seasons, thus driving the per-use price down to $8.33. You see my logic. Naturally, if you live in Michigan, New England, or Minnesota, you're going to need to look like an Eskimo for much of the winter. For you gals, I can suggest the most darling fur-trimmed accessories, shearling mittens, and cozy angora sweaters. Plus a giant vat of gourmet hot chocolate. But for those of us in the southern mid-Atlantic, snow is sort of a novelty -- more for playing in than actually adapting to. So while we all strive to look as cuddly as a bunny rabbit frolicking in the powdery snow, it's just not feasible to shell out our entire post-holiday winter savings on a $900 sherpa-lined parka or a $300 pair of mink-trimmed gloves. There are plenty of adorable winter wonderland accessories and cold-weather staples that will still let you save up for spring shopping - but won't leave you looking like a bundled-up moose.

Therefore, I present to you a bevy of affordable snow-appropriate playwear for those who don't vacation in Innsbruck or Aspen. You can make snow angels, build snowmen, go sledding, and pummel the kiddies with snowballs. Then, when you get bored (or thoroughly chilled), you can cuddle up to someone with a hot toddy or that Godiva hot chocolate you got for Christmas.

Let's hear it for a winter wonderland!