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How I Became a Snow Queen of Central New York

My snow and ice images

Icicles meet the grill.

Icicles meet the grill.

House in snow

House in snow

snow at night

snow at night

Snow out back

Snow out back

Adventures of a Winter Wife

Spring is far away here in Central New York. We have seen snow as late as May 6th. Last week the icicles on the roof finally met the grill on the back deck. How much do you know about weather zones? When we were looking for a place to live back in 1989, I knew nothing of them. I foolishly assumed the entirety of New York State was in the same weather zone as NYC. Not so. It was a rude awakening. Brooklyn New York has low temperatures of 0 to 5 degrees. Our new home in Garrattsville New York was in weather zone 4a where the lows are -30 to -25. When we moved in on March 20, 1989 there were 3 inches of snow on the ground. I thought it was just an oddity.

In Brooklyn NY, on the first day of spring I would be starting our garden. I was lulled into complacency with the quick melt down of snow that first spring. The daffodils were coming up. In 1989 Easter Sunday was on March 30th and on that day the daffodils were in full bloom. We enjoyed a lovely spring and summer. Little did I know what was in store for us. The day after Labor Day was the first day of school. I looked outside and we had a frost. The garden was glistening with ice. The kids toys were white with frost. We had a wood heater in our home so I stoked it up to warm things up a bit. The following days warmed up considerably and I thought that cold spell was just a fluke. When Halloween arrived it was freezing. The kids had to wear snowsuits under their costumes On November 1 it started snowing and it kept snowing.

The temperatures steadily kept going lower and lower. One day while doing laundry I inadvertently dropped a sock on the way out to the clothes dryer that was in the garage.On the way back to the house I picked it up and it broke in half as it had become frozen to the ground in that short period of time.. Another time the dryer did not start and when I went out to retreive the clothes they were a block of ice. I did not know what else to do so I just turned it on and the huge frozen block of laundry banged around in there till it was defrosted. I had to watch the dog when I let him out. His feet would freeze up and he would roll over on his back. I would have to go out and carry him back to the house. I am fairly certain he would have just frozen there with his legs straight up in the air.

I worked nights at that time and had to get a battery warmer for my car, otherwise it would not start.My husband had used a hair dryer at one point but the battery warmer was more practical.I had to plug in at work so my car would start in the morning. I never knew such things existed. Sub freezing temperatures certainly put perspective on personal safety. One night on my way to work I thought I had gotten something in my eye, and it turned out to be that the moisture on my eyeball started to freeze up. One night I took a shower right before I left and I managed to break a piece of my hair off as it froze as I attempted to put it behind my ear as I was starting my car. I learned not to breath through my mouth as my silver fillings would freeze up, metal conducts cold right down to those nerve endings and it felt like my head would explode.

The cold did lend itself to some fun times too. We enjoyed science experiments with the children. Hot air rises. A paper bag with hot air from a hair dryer rises up a good ten feet! Soap bubbles blown would freeze and roll across the snow until they shattered. We made ice cream without ice or salt by just putting the machine outside.We made some pretty spectacular ice lanterns by putting a coffee can with a rock in it inside a bucket of water. The water would freeze around the can. We would remove the can and the bucket. In the space where the coffee can was we would put a votive candle. They were a glorious display at night. The snow was incredible, snow on top of snow. The children started tunneling. They made igloos and snowmen, Food coloring in spray bottles of water lent itself to creativity with snow we had never known before.

The community pulled together and made the most of winter and helped each other whenever possible. The children had movie weekends and sledding parties. There were Winter Balls at the schools and Cabin Fever Dances at the firehouse. Local theater groups always had a February production.

Living in a rural area we had a regular mailbox that was set on a post by the side of the road. Inevitably the snow plow hit it and as a temporary measure I duct taped it to the post.My husband then screwed it to a post that was hit too and broke off. So we just dug a hole in the snow bank and put the mailbox in. And there is where our mail was delivered until Spring. At that time, my husband made the arm that reached out over the ditch. It was on a swivel, So, in the years that followed, when the snow plow hit the mailbox, instead of breaking off, it would just swing out of the way.

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The most disturbing and unsettling phenomena of winter is what I like to call the "Ice Ninja" You could be calmly walking along then you find yourself on your back. Yep, the "Ice Ninja" at work. Your legs are swept out from beneath you. The Ninja usually strikes when you have become complacent. You think you are sure footed then all at once you are on your back staring at the sky.

I am an old pro at winter now. I know I need to layer my clothes, I will wear multiple pairs of socks. No chic fine leather boots for me. I always get nice heavy ones with treads! Long underwear is my friend.I wear a hoodie and a scarf under my coat. Gloves are a must! We have ergonomic snow shovels!Protect your skin. Breathe through your nose. I know how to put chains on a car (the old fashioned kind too) I can shovel, scrape ice off a windshield, knock icicles off the house. I have found the internet does a wonderful job of staving off cabin fever, especially since I am planning my next garden. I take pride in the accomplishments and all I have learned, I know I am one of the thousands if Snow Queens in Central New York and we certainly have earned that title!

Pristine snow

Pristine snow


Edna Straney (author) from Oneonta New York on March 18, 2021:

Thank you...

Robert Sacchi on January 26, 2017:

Definitely. That goes for cold as well as hot.

Edna Straney (author) from Oneonta New York on January 26, 2017:

Thanks! Yes always be aware of weather zones and patterns when traveling as well!

Robert Sacchi on January 25, 2017:

This article is a must for anyone who is moving to a much colder climate. Glad you posted it.

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