Island Packet — Let’s be honest with each other, Lowcountry people: A major reason that we expatriated ourselves here in the swamps — in addition to retirement, golf and/or the realization of our dream of opening a makeshift bar in a storage facility — is so that we could spend no small amount of time gloating at all of the slushy saps who have elected to live in the North, on purpose, despite considerable scientific evidence pointing to the fact that winter has been known to occur nearly every year.
Over the years and in my two separate stays here in the Lowcountry, I have done this a lot. I did it last week. I’ve done it enough so that I have been occasionally disinvited from important family gatherings. Now and again I’ll load up the weather forecast for Chicago, gasp in farcically overwrought Glenn Beck-ian horror at the shockingly low figure before me, do a genre shuffle for “Reggae” on the iPod and sit back and drink my morning margarita.
One afternoon in 1998 I mentioned to my absurdly talented photographer ex-roommate that I was heading out to finish my Christmas cards by our apartment complex’s pool; he responded, “Shovel the sidewalk while you’re out there!” chortling with a good-natured what-ho as we patted each other on the back and enjoyed the sort of convivial laughter you’d expect of very old criminals, smirking inwardly at our friends and family who had, very likely, spent a good part of their morning chucking a Tootsie Roll-brown mixture of slush, road salt and small former animal chonks off of their wheel wells. (Karma being a jerk, three weeks later I found myself stranded in Chicago’s O’Hare airport — I can’t remember exactly how long it was, but I do know I began to make vague plans about which fellow travelers should be eaten first — but that’s probably for another story time.)
The point is this: The cold is up there, and we are down here, which is why we are down here, except now, when the cold is here, there and everywhere, because this is the Winter That Will Never Die. The cold snap that has gripped the Lowcountry, which I am assured by experts, including bartenders, the people bagging my groceries and some beardy dude at the oyster roast last weekend, is not normal. And yes, I know that what we call “cold” here is the sort of cold that would make people from Chicago punch us in the throat for daring to use the word “cold” to describe the not-cold that is called cold here, but whatever, getting out of the shower is awful.
How cold is it? It’s so cold that Ted Williams’ head has been temporarily relocated to my back porch. It’s so cold that when I walk out to get the mail, I stop on the way back to build a fort. It’s so cold that Obama is proposing a federal bailout on Big Cocoa. I’m talking cold, people!
(This is, of course, but one man’s opinion; I am sure many folks would say the same thing about the heat and humidity that descends upon us around springtime and causes some of those smaller cormorants on the beach to spontaneously burst into flame. But those people are dumb, because, as a wise friend once proclaimed, “You don’t have to shovel the hot.”)
What all this means for the local condition, I cannot say, although it’s seemingly confused the area’s Palmetto bugs, which have become so disoriented by the seasonal affect disorder that they’ve temporarily stopped crawling in the middle of my living room floor and dying. But as long as this cold snap persists, you can rest assured that I will keep up this campaign of ferocious whimpering, at least until after a few margaritas.