Thursday, December 17, 2009

You and Bing can have your White Christmases

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — I’m not dreaming of a White Christmas.
I grew up in Michigan and I’ve done my time.
Icy, bone-chilling, soul-numbing, snowy, hard time.
In fact, getting away from snow was a major reason I decided to move to New Mexico.
And then out of northern New Mexico, after a year when the snow season lasted from November to the following May in Santa Fe.
After a seven-year detour to Jamaica and southern Florida, where I learned there are far worse things than snow (hurricanes and alligators on the patio, for starters), finally, I got it right and moved here.
In Las Cruces, Jack Frost may, very rarely, nip at your nose, but chances are, he’ll never go full-tilt polar vampiric on you and drain all the warmth from your bones.
We may enjoy a winter wonderland snowfall once or twice a year, but after coating the desert with a fragile layer of icy lace and posing for a photo op against the intensely lapis blue sky, it’s likely to melt away that same day in the gleaming sunlight.
It might hang around for a little longer in the mountains, frosting the Organs and providing a spectacular backdrop without inconveniencing us a whit, as we go about our business at lower elevations.
Snow rarely outstays its welcome, just another reason we love winter in southern New Mexico, where we can usually also expect a few balmy 70-plus degree days here and there.
I used to dread snow. I’d even be inclined to call it a phobia if I didn’t know that the correct definition of phobia is an “irrational and abnormal fear.”
If you’ve done hard time in snow, you know that fear is rational and normal.
Decades later, even after a long and happy hiatus in the desert and the tropics, I can see a weather report and find myself mired in a blizzard of flurry flashbacks, still suffering from PTSS (Post-Traumatic Snow Syndrome).
Even as a very small child, I can remember musing that there had to be a better way of life somehow, somewhere, some way, as mom bundled us in insulated underwear, sweaters, zip-up snowsuits and hats. And more. I still remember the drill: the mittens that were clipped to our sleeves, the muffler tied around our faces, covering our red little noses and our chapped little lips and cheeks.
And yes, I remember the treats, too: making snow angels and snowmen and the thrill of sledding down a powdery hill. The sweet syrupy icicles that dripped from the maple trees in our front yard. The snow ice cream mom showed us how to make by pouring a little milk, sugar and vanilla in a big bowl packed with fresh snow.
And the snow sports: Skiing and ice skating and snowshoeing through the pristine white wilderness.
But that’s not what I remember most when I think of winter. The snow sports and treats just weren’t enough to override the memories of the sheer terror of learning to drive on icy roads, and those frigid daily walks to school, the cabin fever, and yes, all those toddler-through-college snowsuits, the feeling of being confined — trapped, even — for what seemed like more than half the year.
This past week, I realized that a couple of decades in New Mexico — the good, mostly one-day snow part of the state — have healed some of my wounds.
I didn’t even grumble too much when we got twice our usual annual quota of snowfalls in a single week.
It even seemed kind of appropriate to have actual winter weather for Winterfest this year.
But I’m good to go now, and no, I’d just as soon not have a White Christmas this year.
Two 2009 snowfalls are quite enough, thanks.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at; (575) 541-5450. To share comments, go to and click on Blogzone and Las Cruces Style.

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