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Expressions: The Winter That Wasn't

Unseasonable January temperatures allowed Jordan Rucker, 11, Alexis

Unseasonable January temperatures allowed Jordan Rucker, 11, Alexis Lake, 11, and Catherine Walsh, 12, of Lakeview to romp in the surf at Long Beach (Jan. 31, 2012) Photo Credit: Photo by Alejandra_Villa

Long Island just completed a season in which the joy was palpable. The reason for this jubilation? The Winter That Wasn't.

Last month while getting a wash and cut at a salon in East Setauket, I asked the woman who shampoos my hair what she thought of our nearly no-snow winter. You would have thought I had just asked if she would go on a date with Ryan Reynolds. She gushed at length about how happy she was not to have to deal with all that snow.

Then she regaled me with details of her treacherous driving episodes last year, with the mountains of snow that no one could see around. She had to inch out of intersections to avoid an accident. By the end of my wash, we had formed a bond of mutual snow loathing.

My next-door neighbor in South Setauket shared his method of ensuring an almost snowless winter -- he purchased a snowblower last spring. He knew in his Murphy's Law way of thinking that there was a near certainty that there would be little snow if he spent all that money. He never even took it out of the box.

At work this winter, our UPS delivery driver was elated that he couldn't use the word he coined last winter -- "snirt." The constant snowstorms and spreading of dirt and sand formed ugly, messy piles of snow and dirt. I wonder if the folks at Webster's Collegiate Dictionary might consider adding snirt to their next edition. I would take great pride in knowing I witnessed the birth of a word.

Perhaps the greatest thrill this winter on Long Island was saving on fuel to keep our homes toasty warm. The price of heating oil was up this year from last, but most of us needed less fuel because of the warmer weather. I shudder to think what the price and consumption would have been if we had a repeat of last winter's frigid temperatures. And what would that have done to our fragile economy?

Amid all this euphoria, though, there is always the naysayer.

"I grew up in Chicago, and I love snow," said a waitress at our diner in Centereach. "I hate that we didn't have any snow this winter. It's not winter without snow."

And now there are predictions of doom, gloom and pestilence. It seems we happy but hapless Long Islanders must pay for the sins of our warm winter. We have been warned that spring and summer may deliver plentiful insects, earlier allergy attacks, and more algal blooms in our coastal waters. Talk about raining on a parade!

Let them say what they will, but this is one Long Islander who has chosen to forever treasure and hold dear the Long Island Winter That Wasn't.

Reader Patricia Schaefer lives in South Setauket.

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