It's impossible to appreciate a luxury car if you haven't owned a 1971 Pinto that smelled like French cheese. It's difficult to value a healthy romance before you've had a relationship with a gal who emptied your bank account, considered "Chubbers" an affectionate nickname and changed her Facebook relationship status to, "Desperate for someone, anyone, who can satisfy me" while you were still dating.
And we cannot properly enjoy the thawing deliciousness of spring when it follows a winter as gentle, and boring, as a mother's love. Personally, I feel like I've been ripped off.
It's the first day of spring, which normally, on Long Island, would be met with either rhapsodic joy or towering rage.
Towering rage: "I cannot believe I am shoveling on the first day of spring. There is a pile of snow next to my driveway the size of a dead whale. It will never, ever melt. If it snows one more time, I'm eating rock salt, on the off chance that I will die and wake up in warm, toasty, delightful hell."
Rhapsodic joy: "Honey, the weather guy says 59 degrees today. It's the warm-up of the gods. Get my flip-flops. Grab my 'Life's a Beach' tank top. Toss me my Speedo. Surf's up!"
This winter we saw temps as much as 9 degrees above average. Islip got four inches of snow -- about 15 inches less than average -- and about 314 feet less than we got last winter.
At first, this winter charmed. As November and December offered temperatures between tolerable and tropical, everyone rejoiced, and said, "But we're going to get whacked." A tame, even effete January left us fearing February. But February offered no bark, or bite, and a 70-degree St. Patrick's Day put the icing, albeit without any actual icing, on the cake.
Winter was a dud.
This has been particularly painful at my house, since I lured my 10-year-old daughter into moving here from South Carolina with promises of a winter wonderland and weekly school cancellations.
"There will be skiing and skating and snowball fights and tobogganing," I told her. "It will be like living in Gstaad, but without the eurotrash and long waits for doctor's appointments that often accompany nationalized health care."
The snow saucer we bought now bears jagged scars from her efforts to sled on asphalt covered with a thin layer of slush. Attempts to convince her that I meant roller skating and water skiing did not work. Substituting ice-cube fights for snowball fights proved . . . unwise. Attempts to convince her that "tobogganing" is actually the study of the island nation Tobago were met with stony silence. The fact that she had six snow days last year, in "the buckle of the balmy belt," did not help.
Even my wife, who considers Northern winters a form of punishment on par with watching professional billiards on television, is miffed. She never got to use her chic new gloves with the iPhone sensitive fingers.
This sad excuse for winter wasn't just disappointing, it has a legitimate downside. The pollen this spring will be sneezetacular, the bugs will arrive in militant hordes, and the water will be choked with algal bloom-inspired red and brown tides nastier than an undergraduate's laundry hamper.
Still, I haven't given up on deliriously enjoyable weather. For us to enjoy it, though, we'd need a scorching summer, the kind that makes you feel sticky, then wilted, and finally, murderous. Then, and only then, will we able to luxuriate in the delightfully cooling breezes of autumn.
Good weather is nice, but great weather can only be experienced when the terrible weather stops.
Lane Filler is a member of the Newsday editorial board.