Have winters gotten worse or have we gotten weaker?
We used to be able scrape our windshields with a credit card. Now, if we’re not taking a blowtorch to them we’ll never get the ice sheet off before our cars’ butt warmers kick in.
Sidewalks are slipperier, too, largely because our dads aren’t scraping them down to the concrete. Driveways don’t have a thick coat of salt, either, because, well, we’re not our dads and who wants to stand outside in minus temperatures throwing out salt like so much chicken feed?
Schools rarely declared snow days when we were kids. We parked by the television waiting to read the scroll of those that were.
Schools in Hawaii shut down before ours did. Still, we held out hope and begrudgingly put on overshoes, three scarves and a parka two sizes too big before heading out. We walked to school, too, and deposited a mountain of clothes in the school’s entry before stomping our way into class. Today, terms like “late start” and “early out” are learned before “mama” and dada.”
The hint of snow didn’t prompt a mad dash to the supermarket, either. Instead, mom opened a second can of soup and said if we got close to running out, she’d “thin” it with more water. Campbell’s Bean with Bacon couldn’t have been more aptly named.
Now, we can’t take a temperature shift of five degrees. We adjust the heat in our homes through our smartphones, so we don’t have to suffer too much as we go from the car to (egads!) the unheated garage.
Once inside, a toasty home awaits. The heat is uniform, thank god.
During those kinder, gentler winters of the past, we had to turn on the oven and open its door just to make the kitchen warmer than the inside of the refrigerator.
A mountain of blankets helped us with the wind that slipped through the poorly insulated walls; a stocking cap could handle the breeze that came off the bed at night.
And the bathroom?
It didn’t have heated floors, just a series of scatter rugs that made a late-night run more of a game than a task.
In these colder, crueler times we can’t leave restroom visits to chance. Towel warmers? Check. Steam showers? Check. Toilet seat heaters? Check.
We now have large water heaters so we don’t have to worry about baths that might be lukewarm. In the Mesozoic era, we made do, occasionally adding a boiling pot of water from the stove – when the water heater appeared to have run out.
We didn’t whine when the wi-fi wasn’t working. We were just grateful the antenna could pick up one channel – even if it did play the same three Popeye cartoons on a loop.
Now with every program available at the swipe of a phone, we’re quick to say, “I’m bored.”
Yes, we took pictures of ourselves in the snow, but we didn’t make sure the lighting was perfect or the pose was inviting. We were either standing in front of our snow forts or licking an icicle. One shot. Eyes closed? So what?
Today, we think too much before we do.
We haven’t wimped out. We’ve become too self-conscious.
Sometimes, you just need to press ahead.
And if you do, make sure you wear a hat and gloves.