By Martha Reed
It was a surprise to me to open the kitchen curtains on Thursday morning and see an accumulation of snow on the cars parked by the ball field. Of course, I knew winter was coming, but as soon as my furnace fires up I traditionally go into a state of denial that lasts pretty much until Spring break.
I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for sixteen years now, so you’d think I’d be used to Old Man Winter. Lord knows I’ve got the gear: six coats, gloves and mittens, three pairs of boots, a red plastic snow shovel, a fifteen dollar bag of rock salt. I didn’t have any of this stuff when I lived in Texas. Well, maybe the boots, but they were made from exotic leathers back then and not all-weather ‘outdoor enthusiast’ Canadian-made Sorels.
It’s not that I hate the cold – I don’t. I can take the cold until it gets down to zero. After that, I am inside wrapped up in a fleece coverlet sipping something warm. I think what I object to is the DARK.
I’m an early riser and in the winter when I get up my day is dark. I work downtown in a cubicle farm until 5PM, and when I come out of the building it’s still dark. I do try to go for a walk at lunchtime just to see the daylight. Honestly, I don’t know how people in more northern climates survive. I remember one episode of Northern Exposure when someone imported lighted visors to help the townsfolk cope with Seasonal Attitude Disorder. One chronically crotchety old man had a complete change of personality when exposed to sunlight – of course, being Northern Exposure the townsfolk wanted the older crotchety version back.
Here’s another favorite Northern Exposure scenes:
And then there’s the opposite problem. Have you seen the movie Insomnia? Al Pacino plays an LA detective, Will Dormer, who gets sent to Alaska to investigate a homicide. Alaska, the land where the summer sun never sets. The plot is gripping enough, but there are two scenes in particular that had me sitting on the back of my chair. I won’t give them both away, I want you to rent the DVD, but the scene I really like has Will Dormer freaking out in his hotel room – he can’t sleep because his room is never really fully dark. A seam of watery daylight shows around his blackout curtain and Al Pacino turns it loose. I didn’t need a Pacino performance to understand what it was he was trying to say!