After Zeus overthrew his Titan father, Cronos, he decided to be a good guy and share ruling the world with his two bros, Poseidon and Hades. Zeus got the sky, Poseidon got the sea and Hades got the shaft, being forced to rule over dead people in the underworld.
Unfortunately being the lord of the dead wasn’t doing much to get Hades laid. He needed a bride, but couldn’t convince any of those hot Olympian goddesses to get down (way down) with him. So he decided to kidnap and rape his niece, Persephone, and make her his child bride, because both incest and child rape were totally cool as long as you were a god.
Persephone’s mom, Demeter, was heartbroken. She didn’t want her flower-child daughter to live below ground with her creepy brother. So Demeter did the only logical thing, and exercised her power over the harvest to keep crops from growing. At first this wasn’t so bad for the other gods, but eventually people on earth started dying and then they couldn’t offer up sacrifices. Now that was too far. Zeus begged Demeter to turn on the harvest, but she refused unless she got her daughter back. Very Sally Field of her. Zeus went down below and forced Hades to give Persephone back.
It should have ended right there. Unfortunately, Persephone got hungry while she was held captive. She ate three whole pomegranate seeds to satiate her. What a glutton. Eating the food of the dead meant that she would always be forced to return to Hades for three months out of each year, one month per seed. And each year when Persephone leaves her mother mourns her, and the crops fail and the world gets stuck in winter.
So that was the start of winter: pedophilia and pomegranates.
Growing up primarily in Northern California, the concept of winter seemed about as real as the story above. Winter meant more rain, greener grass and temperatures in the mid 60’s. It was the wet season, but never much worse than that. “Winter” never really set in as something to be reckoned with.
Then I married a military man and moved to New England at the end of one November. I had no idea that almost everything can freeze before then. Nor did I actually know that winds really can (and will) chill you to the bone. I had always used the Twain witticism that the coldest winter he’d ever spent was a summer in San Francisco to show my prowess in colder climates. I tell you, sir, I’ve spent many summer days in San Francisco, and a winter in New England is vastly worse.
Winter is tough. I’d always seen snow filled vistas and thought they looked idyllic. As a small child I spent a few winters in Michigan, but only ever remembered outdoor ice-skating and snowmen. The cold temperatures never registered in my memory. All I retained were the fun bits. Maybe the less fun bits would have stuck if I’d needed to perform winter chores like shoveling the driveway, but that’s not usually the type of thing required of a 6-year-old.
I muddled through my adult life generally believing that winter was some kind of magic for those who actually got snow. It just meant sledding, skating and snowmen. Living in the North East has taught me different. As an adult, winter sucks. It means layering up and doing chores. If I never shovel another driveway of snow I may be able to die happy. Most of the time the snow isn’t even good for snowmen and little kids usually hog all of the good sledding hills, depriving me of all the fun stuff I thought might temper the gloom.
Due to some cosmic (or detailing) injustice, my husband and I were sentenced to not one, but two whole winters before our next PCS. By mid-February both winters I thought that Hell (or Hades) really had frozen over, and taken root in the ice and snow covered oblivion we lived in.
To be fair, I learned a lot too. My first February a storm took out the power for 30 hours and we didn’t have heat. It got down to 40 degrees in the house. I actually brought in my spin bike to do a few minutes on it every half hour to stay warm. I also lacked almost any foods that could be made outside of a microwave and felt I might starve. After that I learned preparedness. I learned to start keeping non-perishable foods and water bottles in the house. I also kept my next post race “blanket” that is designed to keep heat in after my next race. I realized that even though other territories are generally warmer, it’s usually good to keep survival items on hand. An earthquake could have hit me in CA and I would have been screwed. Now I’m optimistically cautious: I hope for the best, but prepare for the worst in any new environment. I still despise the snow and cold weather. That will likely never change, but at least the lesson it taught me was a good one.