Welcome to Spring in the Northeast [aka A Runner’s Hell]

This is what spring looks like in the Northeastern United States. As a runner, it is bloody miserable. Running in the soppy, slippery, slush. Forget about trail running, especially in the parts tucked away from the sun; if they don’t see the light of day, the slush there may stick around until May. And as the snow melts during the slightly warmer days, the water turns to ice overnight, leaving slippery sidewalks behind.

Coming from California, I frequently encounter questions such as, “But why would you leave California for this? But why are you here? BUT WHY?!?!”

First of all, I should acknowledge the sacrifice I have made to leave my home state in order to become a physician. And as miserable a experience as it has, at times, been to be living through my third Northeastern winter, it certainly has made me appreciate life back home. And I must say, shouldn’t everyone experience a truly horrendous blizzard at some point in their lives, if only to say they lived through it?

Secondly, I should point out the obvious. It does snow in California. In fact, public schools in California get a whole week off for President’s Day; it’s called ski week. Presumably for the upper crust to drive off to bourgeois ski resorts like Heavenly in Lake Tahoe without having to pull their kids out of school. It all seems more than slightly inappropriate for a place like the Bay Area to have a week off from school in February called ski week. A place where there are no snow days. It is mildly off-putting. But I digress.

Thirdly, I should point out something much less obvious. It does snow in the Bay Area. Yes, indeed, this may be surprising, but perhaps it shouldn’t be. There are altitudes high enough in the Bay Area where snow is not unusual. In years previous, prior to the drought, it was not uncommon to drive around parts of the Bay Area, principally the South Bay, and see snow-capped mountains in the East.

Judging from their expressions, I can only imagine that when I tell people living in the Northeast that I am from California, they must think of California, what Californians think of Maui. Perpetual sunshine, rainbows, blue skies, unicorns dancing on the aforementioned rainbows. Not to disabuse Californians of their idea of Maui or Northeasterners of their idea of California, but frankly, it rains quite a lot in Maui, and California enjoys four seasons.

The question thus arises: why have I grown to progressively hate Northeast winters more and more with each passing year? It’s not the snow, nor the ice, nor even the record-breaking blizzard of last week. It’s the fact that we’re literally days away from the official start of spring, there’s still snow on the ground, and the average daytime temperature is in the 40s. What I can’t stand/understand about winters in the Northeast is that they’re so damn long.

In the Bay Area, winter is not six months long. I should preface this by stating that I define winter as any daytime high temperature below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. In other words, if it’s in the 50s outside, it’s cold, ergo, it’s winter.

In the Bay Area, the daytime high doesn’t routinely dip below 60 during the day until early December, and by late January, daytime temperatures are typically already well into the 60s. By early March, daytime temperatures are typically in the low 70s. Granted, this particular winter has been an aberration due to the torrential rains. Thus, by all conceivable calculations, winter in the Bay Area is basically barely two months long. Which, if you ask me, and possibly every other person who has ever lived through a Northeast winter, is just as long as it should be. “I wish winter was longer,” was said by no one, ever.

In the Northeast, it starts to get cold, i.e. 50 degree temperatures, by mid-to-late October. Daytime temperatures do not routinely hit the 60 degree mark until mid-to-late April. October, November, December, January, February, March, April; that’s literally half of the year.

And yet, here we are. Past the midpoint of March, and it is still cold as fuck. And the forecast for today, the first day of Spring?  41 degrees high, 32 degrees low. Welcome to spring in the Northeast.


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