In Search of the Ultimate Winter

How a Southern childhood led me to the town at the end of the world

Street signs in Norway, photo by Michelle Richmond, all rights reserved

I GREW UP in the humid heat of Alabama’s Gulf Coast. My family would run the air conditioner on Christmas Day so we could use the fireplace. In a landscape devoid of snow, where all you needed to get through the coldest months of the year was a windbreaker, winter took on a magical mythology. I dreamed of sleds and bright woolen mittens, a fat snowman guarding the lawn.

When I was 7, on a family trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., I saw snow for the first time. What startled me most was the clean, bright smell and the crunching sound beneath my sneakers when I plunged my feet into a snow bank. The cold felt like a great adventure.

In 1997, I moved to New York City. The first snow of the winter filled me with awe. I loved the hush it brought to the noisy city, the way it made everything look sparkling and pristine. But when the snow turned black and piled up along the curbs and the wind bit my face, the romance soured. While I enjoy the cold, I decided I like it best in small doses. So I moved to San Francisco, where the summers are notoriously cold and winter brings occasional sun and frequent rain, never snow.

Continue reading this essay in the Wall Street Journal.

Or download the ebook, Blackout in Ushuaia, for free on itunes.

Originally published at Michelle Richmond.

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