Thursday, June 24, 2021

Life & Style

Groundhog Night

There are times during the winter months when I should be put into a corner with an entire chocolate cake and left there. I become tired and cranky.

As Christmas trees are untrimmed and left on the side of the road, cold settles on top of everyone like a glacier. It’s unbelievably, unsettlingly, absurdly cold. It takes a lot for me to venture outside. I do so only under extreme duress. Otherwise, you’ll find me under blankets wearing big wool socks and falling asleep to TV. It’s pathetic, but when it’s under zero degrees out, I don’t want to be anywhere else.

One night, however, a friend who is ill calls and I bundle up like Randy in A Christmas Story to go to her. This is the night that they’re predicting a 30-below wind chill. The fabric on my big blue sleeping bag of a coat hardens from the icy gusts to the point that I feel like it will crack if I touch it. By a miracle, my car actually starts.

I bring my friend what she needs and we have a nice visit. Then it’s time to go back into the Siberian wasteland. It’s even colder now than when I left. Again, my car starts. What a little trooper.

As I drive home I wonder if I’ve ever experienced this level of cold before. I can’t take a breath without gasping and I know the heat in my car won’t kick in before I’ve arrived at my house. The road is eerily empty of traffic and there’s no sound but the low whine of my car engine. Swirls of snow cross the road like dust devils.

I get inside, burrow under a down comforter, and don’t even bother to turn the TV on before falling into a deep sleep. When I wake up in the morning the outside thermometer reads 10 below.

Then, as is typical in New England, the temperature does a turnaround. It’s suddenly in the 50s. A couple of friends suggest going to a new place to hear music, so I don’t hesitate. Who knows what will happen after this? We could get more 30-below wind chills, more snowstorms measured in feet. Got to grab the brass ring of good weather while I can.

This is the opposite of last month when I ran and ran until I was forced to stop. Now I’ve been forced to stop and want to run.

At the bar the music is fantastic and the crowd is three people deep to get a drink. Everyone is hyped up. A woman next to me is shouting, “Who wants shots? I’m buying anyone who wants one a shot! Lemon drops for everyone!”

The bartender starts to sing a made-up bluesy song about lemon drop shots as he pours. The hooch merrily splashes into the shot glasses and he fills them to the top without spilling.

“Light ’em on fire!” someone shouts.

A guy with a nose ring who looks a little like Jesus almost knocks over my drink then apologizes. I smile and say it’s okay and it really is okay. I’m enjoying the chaos.

“I always love a good floor show!” I say to my friends as the lemon drops are passed around and people yell “Whoop!” after downing them.

Nose-ring Jesus and I clink glasses.

When I get home that night, I feel good and it’s not from lemon drops. I manage to refrain from those. It just feels good to venture out of my hidey-hole like old Punxsutawney Phil. I take a good long look at my shadow before going back in.

Four more weeks of winter or six more weeks of winter? Does it matter? Spring, be it in four, six, or eight weeks, is still coming. I’ll remind myself of this as the temperature once again drops and a nor’easter howls. Spring, like a shot of lemon drop, will someday warm these winter weary bones.

Juliana Gribbins is a writer who believes that absurdity is the spice of life. Her book Date Expectations is winner of the 2017 Independent Press Awards, Humor Category and winner of the 2016 IPPY silver medal for humor. Write to her at Read more of her columns at


Juliana Gribbins is the Columnist for Zip06. Email Juliana at .

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