Column: This week's weather stirs warm memories

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Roger VanHaren

Boy, it’s been cold lately. I mean, really cold! As I’m writing this, my phone is telling me it’s below zero outside, and the TV weather girl is saying the wind chill factor is 25 below.

This is the kind of cold that is downright traumatic. This is the kind of cold that drives our snowbirds south for the winter. I haven’t ventured farther than the mailbox today, and I’m ignoring the snow that’s falling outside. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

While it is not typically the most beloved season, there are plenty of wintery things and activities that make the season bearable — sometimes even enjoyable. Even when we are frustrated with having to shovel the driveway, or deal with our perpetual cold, if we take the time to slow down and look around, it is easy to find plenty of beautiful things about winter that make these frigid months quite charming.

Why do some people love winter? Is it because they can enjoy winter activities like snowboarding or skiing? Or because they have an excuse to put on comfy clothes and cuddle up by a fire?

Winter scenery can be lovely. The first snowfall of the year, for instance, is almost always a reason to smile, unless of course it’s like the five feet of snow Erie, Pennsylvania, received last week. The bright red cardinal who visits the feeder in the back yard is a thing of beauty against the snow.

Family gatherings for the holidays, baking and decorating cookies, fruitcake, hot chocolate, a steaming bowl of chili, decorating the Christmas tree, wrapping presents, holiday music, New Year’s Eve, snow days, snow angels, snowboarding, skiing, ice fishing, cross country skiing, bowl games — you don’t get these things in summer.

Thinking about all this stuff, makes me think of songs about cold and snow. How about Irving Berlin’s “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm?”

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how gross it is outside: As long as you have a few key things at your disposal — a nice pot of soup or chili, maybe a really good book — you’ll be able to make it through, all right. The song outlines perhaps the most important thing to have on hand during a blizzard: another warm body to snuggle up to. “What do I care how much it may storm? I’ve got my love to keep me warm.”

Bing Crosby crooning “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” or “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” (“Please have snow and mistletoe, and presents under the tree”) can evoke some nice thoughts. Willie Nelson, Barry Manilow, and Norah Jones had hits with “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”

So, I guess I’ll go find my book, turn on the Christmas tree lights, grab a cup of hot chocolate and a Christmas cookie, settle in my favorite chair, and watch the world go by — because “Baby, It’s cold outside.”

Contact Roger VanHaren at