Winter Makes Us Who We Are

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Some of us ski, some of us snowmobile, but most of us dislike Buffalo’s winter weather, and have absolutely no use for it at all. Period.

Hertel Avenue, January 6, 2014.
Hertel Avenue, January 6, 2014.

Sure, that first snow fall is cute, and it’s nice to have a little right before Christmas, but that’s it for snow. And the cold is almost entirely useless.

Yet here we are, living in a place where we don’t really like the weather 5 months out of the year, and we wouldn’t leave for anything.

All of us spend from November to April with a dry cough, a low-grade sinus infection, and chapped, cracked hands and lips.

The cold, colorless landscape can wear on our moods. Prolonged cold and snow can wear on our bodies as we clear our driveways and windshields, and can wear on cars as they try to chug through, too. Even our heartless, soulless machines need an occasional jump or a push to get themselves going when it’s like this.

But that’s how winter makes us who we are.

We’re ready with the knowledge of rocking a car– wheels straight– before a gut-busting almighty shove, and standing by with a pair of jumper cables, ready to hook the black cable to some bare metal in the engine block of the car with the dead battery. We don’t have this arcane knowledge just for ourselves, but also to help bring brightness to someone else’s cold, gray day. We don’t even question that it’s everyone’s responsibility to get everyone else out of the ditch and on to where they are going.

If you don’t have jumper cables, maybe you have supply of cough drops, tea bags and tissues your desk drawer. They are ready, of course, for when your month-long almost cold turns the corner to full-blown sick. They are also there, however,  as an apothecary for friends and co-workers, ready to soothe their aches with a little understanding and help get through not only the day, but the howling, frigid winter with which we all grapple.

Maybe after a lifetimes’ worth of clearing the neighborhood’s sidewalks, the next generation is now clearing yours. We all understand that winter is a group effort in Western New York, and that understanding permeates who we are year ’round.

A Buffalo winter is not like a tornado or a hurricane. There’s no hoping and praying that it skips us. We know it’s coming, and we know it’s going to be long, and we know it’s going to be rough at times. But the thing that’s different about a Buffalo winter– is not only how we deal with it, but how we all help each other through it.

People fortunate enough to head south during the winter months know the feeling of having red, chilled cheeks walking on a plane, and sunny warmth on your face as you disembark.

As good as 80 might feel in Miami today, it couldn’t beat a 52 degree day at the end of January, when you walk outside, feel thoroughly warmed, and smile at the neighbor with whom you were shoveling the side walk only a few days earlier.

Sure, it’s only January, and there is more gray, thick winter to come, but our shared experience, our love for our city, and our love for one another, keep us moving in anticipation of when we can change the sound of howling wind for the sounds of birds chirping in the lush green trees, and change the taste of chapstick for the tastes of our favorite ice cream and hot dog stands.

Stay warm.

This page originally appeared at TrendingBuffalo.com

Published by

Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and is the News Director at WECK Radio. A 25 year Buffalo media veteran, Steve's contributed more than 1400 Buffalo History stories to The Buffalo News, worked at WIVB-TV, Empire Sports Network, and spent ten years as a newsman and News Director at WBEN Radio. He's also put his communication skills to work as an adjunct professor, a producer of PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.