Winter Has Come

(I do apologize for the blatant GoT reference while simultaneously stating that I do not own any rights to the trademark or franchise, nor, sadly, a Direwolf.) 

 

Winter. Once upon a time that season was greeted with dread. Winter meant a struggle to survive. A slow and agonizing death for those who did not have enough food put away during the time of plenty, or who did not ration wisely, or were simply unlucky. For some, a quicker death if you got caught in a storm, or an avalanche, trying to supplement your dwindling rations by hunting. And if the snow and the cold didn’t get you, disease and exhaustion and malnutrition were just waiting their turn.

Since the advent of central heating and supermarkets, with airplanes flying in fresh apples from New Zealand and 18-wheelers carting guacamole even deep into the Great White North, “Winter Is Coming” has lost its terror. It is even anticipated with joy – at least it always was by me, perhaps not so much by my dad, who every year dragged the snowblower out of the shed while mumbling astonishingly creative bad words (under his breath of course, so I would not hear. And of course I did, and marveled at his artistry).

DEFCON cucumber, aka “throw on another layer and the BIG hat!”

Winter meant pond hockey, hot chocolate, and a magical forest covered in glittering white.

Maybe that’s why ‘Snowflake’ is deemed such a cute insult. Who fears Winter? Well, maybe Texas does, considering the “The End is Nigh!” panic on social media and every single Interstate as soon as an errant cloud accidentally drops some deadly crystals.

Anatomy of a Snowflake

This particular insult has puzzled me since the first time I heard it, and in the beginning I only derived from the context that it was, in fact, meant as a slight. I mean, they’re pretty, right? Awww you think I’m exquisite, and intricate, and I refract light in tantalizing ways, and I look awesome in closeup pictures? Why, thank you!

A short while ago a young man decided to vent his frustration with the world at large and the female population in particular in the direction of my older daughter. What started as clumsy attempts to get her attention and assert his masculinity by wolf-whistling and strutting around like a rooster with to basketballs pressed to his chest (the latter earned him a “Ru would be proud” comment from the target’s younger sister), quickly deteriorated into becoming an all out nuisance. The unholy trinity of familiar bullshit, from mocking the very physical traits he had glorified earlier (aka “If I can’t touch this radiantly magnificent bosom, I shall now declare I never liked it in the first place”), to questioning the attached young woman’s character (aka “Only a mean and stupid woman would reject me!”), to the carpet bombing of blaming everything and everyone other than himself (aka “If not for evil Feminazis and Liberals my crude advances would be enthusiastically reciprocated!”)

Well, no. Like her mother, the young lady with the Mae West figure and the brains to match the cleavage, does not respond well to rudeness. Unlike her mother, she remained serene in her responses. And was declared a “Snowflake” for telling the young man that he was being vulgar and hurtful.

It got me thinking.

pucksmiley

A 17 year old military brat (and if you’re not familiar with the slang, ‘brat’ in this context is a tender endearment), a hockey-playing, horseback-riding cowgirl who could shoot the wings off a gnat at 300 yards but cries when a dog dies in a movie, a soul so gentle she lets her mother win at Monopoly every damn time, who bakes Christmas cookies for soldiers who are away from their families and unable to get home for the Holidays, who could have planted this rude boy on his hind end with one good shove but chose to politely point out that he was being an equus asinus … is a snowflake.

Well. Alright.

To be sure, this one’s a Northern Snowflake (“You better get your scarf and mittens, dude, where I come from the snow don’t play” – sic) . The kind that rides a blizzard down from the Arctic and delivers a few Canadian pines to your doorstep before settling on your roof along with a few billion buddies. Best get shoveling before the cousins show up. They look fluffy and harmless and very pretty, but only until that roof caves in. Do trust me on that one.

A Tale of Ice and Fire 

Now, my stalwart teenager may not have solved her ‘persistent bully problem’, but her wintry cool response allowed me to look at the situation from a different angle.

Here I was, ready to cover my baby’s six at her “Need backup!” call and breathe fire and doom upon that hapless lad smaugwho felt entitled to her attention, and resorted to increasingly crude and abusive tactics when it did not materialize (cue Smaug: “I am FIRE! I am DEATH!”). Here was my younger daughter, channeling her Norse ancestry (95 lbs of Viking fury sounds funny – until it comes straight at you). Here were the high school teachers poised to intervene and chastise the luckless suitor turned bully, and last but far from least, my daughter’s friends and teammates, ready to unleash a blizzard that would warrant a state of emergency in 47 States (and at least an annoyed “Eh!” in Canada).

It was not needed.

Because there is something terribly sad about the “Suck it up, Buttercup!” and “Fuck your feelings!” crowd. About the raging and ranting and the “I’m just blunt and you can’t deal with it!” cries. There is a hurt in there somewhere, a helplessness, and – so my daughter mused when I expressed my marvel at her composure – perhaps a fear of those feelings we’re supposed to ‘suck up’. A fear that allowing yourself to feel, to have empathy, to show but a flicker of insecurity, would instantly deflate the carefully constructed facade of strength. And then one would see the boy who simply doesn’t know how to talk to the adored young lady, who’s terrified of rejection, and whom noone has ever taught about honey and vinegar. About the courage to show your softer side, and the strength one finds at the heart of vulnerability.

Image result for elsa frozen
Perfectly harmless Snowflake

It’s so much easier to double down on the bluster and the anger than to deal with the feelings of “I wanted her to like me but I’ve hurt her”. So much easier to shift the blame to the perceived ‘snowflake’ for not being able to handle a strong, masculine personality. So much harder to admit “I was being an ass to her, and that’s why she doesn’t want anything to do with me”.

I might not be able to summon the same compassion as my Snowflake for this angry, rude young man. I still think he would greatly benefit from a right ding behind the ear, preferably administered by the collected works of Lord Byron. But I can see where she’s coming from. Or rather, where she stands. On her frozen plain, being a lovely, glittering bit of frozen water, and quite content with it. Just don’t insult her on the other ice. The one where pucks fly. That’s when all bets are off and she will surpass her grandsire’s creativity in unleashing utterly majestic expletives. In three languages.

Let it Snow!

It’s -14ºC in Germany today, or about 6ºF. For three ladies hailing from the Adirondacks, that means one extra layer of flannel, and the good boots when walking the fluffy dog.

A fine, crisp cold that nonetheless creeps into your bones and reminds you why our ancestors didn’t mess around with Winter. That even with our sturdy walls and readily available fuel to heat them, even with our internal combustion engines that tirelessly bring food and supplies, even with mighty power plants, we are not quite so safe as we like to think. When the sap freezes in the trees and only the bitter wind breaks the deadly silence of the forest, that bright white blanket of snowflakes is still beautiful. But you don’t feel inclined to call it harmless.

Said the youngest of the ladies, her breath forming small clouds in the crystal clear air: “This ain’t no joke, brother. Yegawds. You two keep going if you want, the dog and I have enough brains to go home and hide under the furs. Auf Wiedersehen!”

February 2018 - Snowlflakes

 

 

 

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28 thoughts on “Winter Has Come

  1. Good post! your daughter sounds like an amazingly mature 17-yr-old & great person.
    My younger sister is studying neuroscience, and tells me that some scientists are now thinking the brain doesn’t mature and spark on all cylinders until 25. (She put it more scientifically).
    I’m spending this winter in Boston, but I’m from Upstate NY and honestly I’ll take the snow any day over cold rain & flooded streets that smell terrible. Although 6 F. I’m inclined to agree with your youngest daughter, a book and cup of coffee start looking pretty good!
    I like that poster with the direwolf & crazy hat 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, a neuroscientist! “Swag!”, as my younglings would say!
      But 25? My brain must not have gotten the memo, or maybe it decided “This’ll do” at some point and threw in the towel 😛

      But yes, both my girls fascinate me with their so very different, yet each strong personalities at so young an age. I sometimes think the military life may play a part, that they have been exposed to a great many things and changes almost since birth, and that made their young brains construct pathways galore to keep up with all the input. That, and they’ve had to deal with a fair amount of adversity and problems your average child/teen doesn’t, or only rarely. So they’ve developed a “My smartphone just bought the farm, but at least mom’s not deployed, and we’re also not PCSing in the middle of winter. Again. So I’ll have 5 minutes of stomping and ranting and then I’m over it” attitude.

      Absolute ditto on the snow over flooded, smelly streets!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I needed to let this… freeze and harden a bit (vs. simmer) before rapping down a comment. 😉

    I should take offense with your derogatory remark (and link) to Texans and wintry weather. But alas… you are right. When sleet or ice begin forming on the overpasses and roadways, you’d be shaking your head, facepalming, and mumbling “WTF are you doing” to all the vehicles in front of you LIGHTING UP RED!!! 🤬 🙄 None of us here in Texas understand physics and chemistry and velocity and tire-traction, much less “WHY is my rear-wheel drive front tires NOT pointing my now turning bobsled in the right direction as I push the brakes harder!?” Most of us only have a GED or H.S. diploma if we’re lucky. 😛

    I REALLY like your daughter’s and her sister’s spunk!!! You’ve obviously done ’em good Shia. Well done Mom. 👍

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Awww it’s all written with the most tender love, Professor! 😎

      You see, I have a not so secret affinity for the Lone Star State, mostly because it contains several people dear to my heart. From the former MP who now lives near Ft Worth and is one of the best friends a human being can ask for (not that we’ll ever let her forget how she managed, in defiance of all the mentioned laws of physics, to high-center her Durango during her first winter in The North… and oh, that drawl, cursing the Yankees and their weather to the netherest reaches of hell…), to several other veterans and horse people.

      I thank you most kindly for your compliment regarding my offspring. To be honest, I often look at them with a mix of bewildered admiration and unadulterated pride (“Those are mine! Haven’t got a clue how I managed, but I did.”) 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🤱😄 You need to have MORE bewilderment, admiration, and unadulterated pride Shia with MORE offspring!!! We so need more little ones like yours running around teaching young, dumb, and full of… rum(?) Texas boys how to behave and respect the planet’s honey & nectar of life: women! And help them drive in sleet and snow too!

        So Shia, I think you should consider my proposition ASAP!!! Yee-HAW!!! 🤠🐎

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Not sure I’d want to tempt fate like that 🧐 – just because it worked so well twice. My luck, the third would turn out the next Taylor Swift! Besides, I had rather hoped to be done with diapers 🏖

          But fear not, the elder at least has already declared she’d like a family one day, should a suitable mate cross her path. So, give it another couple of years and admirable, bewildering Snarkdom shall once more emerge to teach a new generation about ice dancing with SUVs 💃

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely piece, once again. [Please post more, he says, full of anguish that a fresh installment is not on the horizon.] Side note: I have been toying with re-deploying an older post about Texans and driving in the snow. I think you just convinced me that it would be a public service to do so…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, please do! “Texans and the Crystals Of Death” are a source of epic sagas and legends, and with your very own twist to it … Remember to put down the coffee, remember to put…it… down…

      A new installment of the Denmark Saga is in the works, though my day job had me occupied rather more than usual this past month, and this post got in the way by virtue of mama needing to vent regarding current events 😉
      But I’m almost done sorting through the third batch of photos, all that remains is the typing.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Jim! 😀

      ¿Como es alemán hoy?
      “Es schneit wie doof zefix” (or so Miss Sabine says). I believe she meant to express her dissatisfaction with a sudden climb in temperatures (from 6 to 30ºF in less than 24 hours), accompanied by another 3 to 4 inches of snow. The dog however is delighted.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Shiarrael,
    I’ve got three daughters who sound much like yours. I’d say you brung ’em up right! 🙂
    Sounds like you’re much colder there than we are here in Nova Scotia. We haven’t had much of a winter (compared to 2015, when it didn’t stop snowing until almost April) and you can tell by the conversation I overheard yesterday. Says a fellow to another, “I usually burn five cord of wood and have only burned TWO!” A Maritime measuring stick, you understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Carmen,
      welcome to the Neutral Zone and thank you for your comment! 🙂
      It’s funny you should mention the firewood, because my dad was grumbling something similar on the phone recently. Even though the winter in NY wasn’t the mildest on record, apparently overall it wasn’t quite up to specs, either. o_O

      As for Germany – this was a 2 week cold spell, but overall it was actually far too mild. Coach is already worried about the pastures for the horses because there was hardly any snow cover when the frost first hit.

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    1. I’ll have to give the lion’s (or teddy bear’s) share of role model credit to my dad. The rest is my mother’s doing. What they learn from me is mostly what not to do 😋
      Well, except for maybe not giving a damn what people think and how to soldier on, no matter how many times you fall on your face…

      Thank you for stopping by and Welcome to the Neutral Zone!
      If you liked this post (bugger I sound like Amazon), may I suggest the “Confessions of an Accidental Liberal” one and the “About that National Security Speech”?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Daughters. Sigh. I have one who survived teenagedom with maturity yet also a lot of sensitivity, which was a difficult combination. She disliked middle school so much that she is now a 6th grade science teacher. And she really stands up for ‘her girls’ in her classroom, believe me.
    As far as winter, nope, I hate it. I live in New England now but not until after raising my family in the SF bay area. Where a ‘cold’ winter’s day was about 50 degrees. A perfect winter’s day was 62. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that sensitivity … I know what you mean, it is difficult. Major props to your daughter for taking on such a tough job and being a positive force for the youngsters!

      Our winters in the Northeast are an acquired taste, I know 😋 Personally I love four distinct seasons, but by mid-April the snow may take a hike!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Shiarrael! Don´t feel bad about for that GoT reference – I unknowingly did the same thing a few years ago (which brought a huge wave of new visitors on my site and me not knowing what the hell had happened! :D).
    I totally admire how your daughter handled that situation – though I secretly agree with you on that dude needing a clap ´round the ears 😉
    And hey! You´re also in Germany?!?! Or did I get that wrong? Anyhow – so lovely to have met you here on WP and I´m looking forward to many more wonderful chats with you! Sarah 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Miss Sarah and thanks for stopping by!

      Yes, there’s a bunch of US military personnel still to be found in Bavaria’s forests and we’re among them 😉 I kind of started this blog with the idea of writing about “Americans Abroad” and all the funny culture clashes and things we learned about our host nation, but I ended up posting whatever popped into my head.

      You live in Berlin, right? We took a 3-day trip there not long after we arrived in Germany and loved it, but it was too short (and most of it was the usual tourist stuff – Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, the works).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That´s awesome! You´re very lucky – it´s a spectacular beautiful part of Germany!
        Yes, I´m living in the capital where nowadays it seems live more Americans than during the occupation! 😀 Mainly young people studying at our universities, most of which seem to live in my district. 🙂 A couple of years it used to be the French who came here, and before that the Spanish – it´s a wonderful mix of so many different cultures and I get some use out of my language skills even when I´m staying here!!

        I think writing about “Americans Abroad” is a great topic and you can still wriggle those posts in with everything else you´re writing about. 😉 I´ve seen some funny videos on Youtube covering these cultural clashes – apparently our preference for fresh asparagus seems very weird!! 😀 LOL!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It is beautiful! What’s even more fascinating (for an American) is that so many different countries are practically at your fingertips. Drive an hour east, and people speak a whole different language, eat different food, have different architecture… two hours south is Austria, and beyond that Italy. ❤ Go west and before you know it you’re in France. 💖 We’d need another 4 years, or a lifetime, to explore just what is right in our backyard…

          It’s funny you should mention Americans in Berlin though, we bumped into a few on our “Reichstag” tour. University students, go figure 😋 Proving once more that you can always tell an American, but you can’t tell them much.

          I´ve seen some funny videos on Youtube covering these cultural clashes – apparently our preference for fresh asparagus seems very weird!!

          Spargelzeit! 🤣
          I learned that my first year here, along with the importance of Sauce Hollandaise! My girls and I actually developed a taste for it.

          I also love “Angrillen!”
          Such an efficient, pithy word to announce the start of the barbecue season! Very German indeed.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I have never seen snow and I hate cold weather but you make it sound surreal.
    Your daughter is super matured. She handled the situation well. If I were her, I would not have been able to resist throwing in some polite insults.
    Yes. He deserves a clap around the ears.
    You write so well👏👏

    Like

    1. Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comment!

      Yes, deep winter in The North can have a surreal quality – it’s hard to convey the sheer stillness of a forest in mid-January, or the crystal clear air, or the cold that bites your skin and freezes the snot in your nose 😋
      I suppose that’s why a lot of animals have enough sense to sleep through that season.

      Like

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