Winter Theme Week: Ice is the Worst

This holiday week, we’re looking back on some favorite posts about snow, ice, and cold weather. In this post, originally published March 6, 2015, Helen tells ice to go back to where it came from.

A sheet of ice

I am on the record as loving snow and cheerfully tolerating cold. So you’d think I would love winter. And I do, mostly. But as of this week, I am very much ready for winter to pack up its bags and leave the D.C. area.

The reason: ice. Ice is the worst.

Ok, it’s good in drinks and I don’t mind skating on it. But it refuses to stay confined to ice rinks where it can be Zambonied into shape. It has a cruel habit of forming on sidewalks and other places where humans need to walk. And it’s out to get me.

My hate affair with ice began two years ago. It was my first morning in a town in the Arctic where I would be spending the next three months. It was April, which meant everything was still covered in snow and ice. That morning, I walked out of the front door of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics Institute, my home for the next three months, and across the parking lot. Walked. Strode, one might say. As if I were still in Paris, where I’d been the day before. Across a nice slick patch of ice.

Nooot the heeeeaaaad!!!! I thought, as I toppled inexorably backward. I felt every degree of that fall, from mid-stride to horizontal. The muscles in my neck hung onto my head for dear life. I suppose I have them to thank for the bonk on the ice not being as bad as it could have been.

But two days later I was in major pain. Those helpful neck muscles had apparently messed up my spine. At the local hospital, a stoic doctor nudged my vertebrae gently back into place. The letter he wrote for my insurer said I was “treated according to Swedish manual medicine methods.” Whatever those methods are, I highly recommend them. The pain vanished instantly.

It’s funny that ice’s big attack happened in Sweden, because my home, the D.C. area, is a hotbed for ice. We tend to catch a lot of storms right on the boundary between rain and snow. Sleet, freezing rain, the dreaded “wintry mix,” snow that falls and sits and thaws and refreezes in nice smooth sheets—these conspire to make things very slippery around here. So I walk carefully. Very carefully.

But this Saturday the ice caught me again. It was a parking lot again, at an IHOP—that was what most alarmed my doctor, the fact that I’d eaten at an IHOP—and I was walking carefully, but apparently not carefully enough, and it was dark. Wa-boom. Flat on my back again. Same head bump. Same neck pain. Alas, there is no Swedish manual medicine here, so I’m muddling along with good old American physical therapy and hoping my neck and back get their act together.

And I’m cursing the ice. Winter, you’re great. Snow, you can stick around. But ice, you have no friends. Go away and let us have our cherry blossoms.

photo: Shutterstock


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