As regular Zoners know, we have been toasting and roasting the arrival of each new season. We last hailed the autumnal equinox (“The Four Seasons, Part 3: Autumn Falls at Our Feet,” September 23, 2013). The series finally reaches its end (praise be!) with this fourth and final installment. So once again we fire up the Joe Zone nuclear-powered microscope, and objectively examine the hated season of winter, that abysmal time of year when death would be welcome relief, and you feel yourself curling up like one of the dry, lifeless leaves shriveling and shivering on your lawn, under six inches of ice.
Of course, winter isn’t all bad. Some people actually like winter, and in fact look forward to it. They enjoy the cold, the snow, the lack of light, the misery, the depression, the soul-sucking numbness that winter brings. Scientific study has shown that many of these people are on hallucinogens.
The winter solstice occurred Saturday, December 21 at 12:11 PM, marking the start of winter. Sol, of course, is what we call the sun (at least, those of us on a first-name basis with it), so it’s easy to figure out that the word “solstice” comes from shortening “Sol stuck in ice.” Similarly, “December” refers to the “declining ember” of the sun in the winter sky. English is actually a very easy and obvious language, if we just pay attention.
One of winter’s few redeeming virtues is that it contains Christmas, that special time of joy, hope, renewal, and bonding with annoying family members that you wish were stuck in ice – preferably a distant glacier. But it’s the time of goodwill towards all, not just those we like, so we suck it up and pretend that we like them. However – you knew there was going to be a downside to this, didn’t you? – Christmas comes just a few days after winter’s arrival, so once it’s gone, we’re facing three months of frigid darkness with not much to brighten our days.
This year, fortunately, we have the winter Olympics. The Olympics, of course, were started by the Greeks a few thousand years ago, when the Spartans and Athenians realized they needed another outlet for their aggressive tendencies, other than each other’s heads. Greek civilization was unparalleled at the time, and was in many ways the zenith of human accomplishment. It is worth noting, therefore, that the Greeks had no winter Olympics. They knew that if it was frigid and snowy outside, it was best to stay inside.
Nowadays, in winter, we like to strap healthy young athletes to slippery boards and hurl them down mountainsides at seventy miles an hour. The one who reaches the bottom with the fewest broken bones is the “winner,” and is awarded a gold medal. The others are eulogized. Ah, fun times! (Of course, the Joe Zone will be providing fool coverage of the Winter Olympics in February. Stay tuned!)
And now, what better way to pay homage to winter, than to conclude with a few lines of lame, hackneyed verse? I don’t know, so here we go:
Autumn is history, winter’s arrived
When it’s finally over, can I say I survived?
My fingers are numb, my brain is number
My toes just broke off, geez what a bummer!
My blood has stopped flowing, I need intervention,
My body is in cryogenic suspension.
A beach! The sun! I need some more Fahrenheit!
I’m frozen throughout, my face is all barren white!
Get me a hot tub, be my hero,
My body temp’s down to absolute zero.
I’m a frozen Joe-pop, stick me out on the porch,
Revive me for spring, thaw me out with a torch.