11.04.2012

Winter Wooskie

Who's that girl?
She must be nearly freezing
Who's that girl?
I'll bet all that snow
Makes it hard to see her
Today she waved to me
-Belle & Sebastian




I know I said I was ready for winter, but I am not. No siree. I am not ready for winter.

Yesterday, the grey, foreboding clouds warned us to layer on our rain gear and pack an umbrella before we left for the day. A few hours later, the rain fell steadily. As the day wore on, the temperature gradually dropped and the wind picked up.

birdMAN decided to spend his rainy afternoon apartment hunting. Apartment hunting involves going to a rental agency and explaining in Chinese the amount of rent you would like to pay and how many rooms, etc. The rental agents are eager to showcase the seemingly endless supply of apartments. They usually say, this apartment is so convenient, so comfortable, and so nice. Looking at rentals is a great opportunity to practice speaking Chinese. Since the apartments are not all within walking distance, birdMAN got snuggly on the back of a tiny scooter with the Chinese rental agent. He didn’t mind the intimacy because he was cold.

Afterward, birdMAN hopped on his bicycle and headed home. On the way in the midst of a steady downpour, his bicycle tire went flat. He walked 10 minutes to the street bicycle repair shop to get the tire replaced. Afterward, he happily hopped back on his bike with its brand new tire, and about 20 feet later, the pedal broke off. Back to the bike shop.

Meanwhile, I biked home. I slowly maneuvered through the rain, wind, and deep extended puddles. The problem with puddles is, well, they are full of water. Passing cars splash the brown puddle water on you. Your own bike splashes the puddles on you. At the same time, you  hope no hidden obstruction in the puddle will cause you to put a foot down (in the puddle). Based on the accumulated water in road side gutters even during minor storms; I conclude that the storm drains must be severely under-capacity. The puddles are deep! By the time I got home, my jeans and sneakers were drenched (with both puddle water and rain) and I was really cold.

But it only got colder. That evening, we listened to the rain and wind pound the windows. Sometime during the night, the rain became snow. In the morning, the buildings and trees were soaked with snow. Yes, soaked and laden with snow. Not daintily dusted with light feathery snow that inspires snow fights and building snowmen. Today’s snow was wet. The roads were wet. Trees toppled over blocking the bike lanes. The wind was howling. And I had an important appointment keep.

So I layered on my sweater, sweatshirt, scarf, hat, long underwear, thick socks, and gloves. I got back on my preferred mode of transportation—my trusty bicycle. Obviously, riding a bike during snowfall is preferable over rain. You don’t seem to get as wet. However, combine heavy rain and subsequent snow fall, the result are bike lanes full of wet snowy puddles. If having to choose between riding through the wet, snow clumps or the slushy puddle, the puddle is preferable. Snow is either sticky or slippery, neither ideal for trudging a bike through. Just don’t put a foot down in the sloshy mess.

The ride back home was miserably cold. I had layered on all my winter clothes, and I was frigid-- desperate to wait out the rest of the storm in a heated apartment. birdMAN called me during the ride home to ask if I wanted to eat out. Eating out would require being outside—with my only pair of sneakers that at the moment were wet with snow puddle water. Eating out would require being outside in the wind and snow and increasing my chances for freezing to death. I said no thanks. I needed refuge from the storm. I was just so cold. Did you understand me? I was cold. My California self is just not ready for winter.

I am confident after I buy my winter boots, I will be ready for winter. My New Balance sneakers just will not do.

Chinese words of the blog:

下雨 xiàyǔ (down, rain)
English Translation: raining

下雪 xiàxuě (down, snow)
English Translation: snowing

I love the Chinese characters for rain and snow. Doesn’t 雨 look like rain? Doesn’t 雪 look like snow?

birdMAN in the snow with a winter mustache