Alva James-Johnson: Shaking the winter blues

ajjohnson@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 20, 2014 

Spring arrived yesterday, I know. But there's still a chill in my bones.

This shouldn't be. Columbus is supposed to have mild winters. Remember?

You see, my family weighed the options before migrating from South Florida two years ago. My husband missed the changing seasons of Albany, N.Y., where he grew up. And my two daughters longed for the blustery snowstorms of Omaha, Neb., where they were born.

I, on the other hand, loved the humid, tropical weather in Fort Lauderdale and didn't mind living there.

But the economy went sour, and we decided to make a move. So when my husband was offered a job in Columbus, we began investigating the climate. We were assured by local residents -- bless their hearts -- that the winters were nothing to worry about. And we decided it would be the perfect compromise.

But surprise, surprise. This past winter, we found ourselves in freezing temperatures and more snow than the Chattahoochee Valley has seen in recent history, according to meteorologists. And even now there's no telling what the weather will bring. We're wearing coats one day and T-shirts the next.

I partly blame my two daughters who had been praying for a white winter ever since we got here. They considered the flurries a gift from God and spent two days making snow angels. They didn't seem to care that my earnest prayers for warmth went unanswered.

Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm unaccustomed to inclement weather. I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the middle of January and have had my share of snowstorms. My mother says she accidentally dropped me in the snow as a baby, and I've had an aversion to cold ever since.

Yet, I always seem to end up in frigid temperatures. After graduating from Oakwood College in Huntsville, Ala., in 1987, I was hired by a newspaper in Central New York. In that region, snowstorms were almost a daily occurrence. Then in 1994, my husband and I moved to Omaha, Neb., as newlyweds.

It was a great place to start a family. But the bone-chilling, below-zero cold grated my nerves. So when my parents retired to Fort Lauderdale, we thought that would be a better location.

However, I have to admit, even that was deceiving. When we moved to South Florida in 2003, all of the residents there said hurricanes were very infrequent. But, again, that's until we got there. Two years later, Florida experienced the most active hurricane season in recorded history. There were Hurricanes Dennis, Emily, Katrina and Rita. But in South Florida, we were most impacted by Wilma, which killed about 25 people and left millions in the dark. My family spent days hunkered down, losing trees and shingles along the way. But we survived.

Maybe I just have to accept that no place is perfect. Storms are a part of life, and I just have to get use to it, no matter where I live.

Now that spring is here, I'll shake the winter blues and just keep praying.

Alva James-Johnson, reporter, ajjohnson@ledger-enquirer.com.

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