If talking about the weather is considered to be one of the easiest ice breakers for a casual conversation between strangers, then discussing winter – and whether or not you enjoy it or not – may be the meteorological equivalent of talking politics at the dinner table.
It seems as far as seasons go, discussing one’s love or disdain for the winter weather can prove as divisive as any topic you could think of, be it boxers versus briefs, print media versus online or poker versus golf as the most boring sports they are still allowed to televise. The arguments for both sides, however passionately argued, are both clear and, from a distance, agreeable: for the pro-winter crowd, the activities the season allows take top billing: the snow is (usually) blanketing the ground, allowing for such thrilling pasttimes as skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing. Snow forts and epic snowball fights are a possibility and any steep hill in town immediately becomes an amusement park as people young and old slide to its base and race breathlessly to the top. Then, of course, there’s the food. Creams and various animal fats add weight to the hearty stews and chilis that serve as hallmarks of the winter season and, for some reason, American culture has been blessed with a timetable that puts a majority of our feasts in the coldest months of the season.
But then, there’s the arguments against the wintertime, where many useful hours of your life (that haven’t been stolen by daylight savings time) are suddenly consumed by warming your car and shoveling your sidewalk. There’s no wandering the Commons, no leisurely lakeside strolls that aren’t accompanied by blasts of arctic wind and no geese in the parks. (Then again, we’ll count that as a win.)
We at the Ithaca Times understand both sides of the argument. And for those with an unrepentant disdain for the season, we sympathize: it sucks outside and, with so many of our beloved outdoor activities taken away from us, the season seems almost useless, boring even. That’s where we want to help.
In this year’s Winter Times, we’ve decided to focus primarily on ways to pass the time and stay active in the winter season, suggesting ways you can stay somewhat active even with the frightful weather outside. In this issue, you will learn about the people who (illegally) climb upstream, continue to commute (by bike!) in the driving snow and about how, even in the cold and snow, you can still enjoy nature. We even have a suggestion for an activity that could be worth reviving: the Cornell Ice Carnivals of the early 20th Century, where the freezing of Beebe Lake meant some serious jubilation and overnight architectural prowess.
Because food is so important, we’ve even written a story about chili, because there is almost nothing better to have during the winter than a rich, hearty stew and the scene it stands for.
We know there are almost no positives to winter weather. The salt ruins our cars, the ice makes it hard to get around and the cold makes even a walk to the mailbox a miserable experience. But hopefully, some of the suggestions contained in this issue will help take some of the edge off.
Enjoy the season!
– Nick Reynolds, Managing Editor