Whining in a Winter Wonderland

(Published in the Tryon Daily Bulletin, March 12, 2015)

One of my California friends is considering a move to Tryon and asked me recently, “What are the winters like there? I mean really.”
She’s heard me brag about the Isothermal belt and use words like moderate and mild when describing the weather.
But let’s not sugar coat it. Compared to L.A., this is the North Pole. My kitschy orange glazed planters sit shattered on my patio, victims of sub-freezing temperatures. They’d survived in California since the 60s until I found them at a flea market and dragged them here only to bust in the cold. It’s a tragedy.
It’s easy to become a carefree (read: lazy) gardener when you never have to worry about your patio plants freezing. Let’s face it, I’m spoiled by California weather.
My first winter here saw no snow, but we had a power outage due to wintry winds. I was watching Chris Tinkler perform SantaLand Diaries at Sunnydale, when suddenly the stage went dark. Chris reappeared almost instantly beneath the illuminated exit sign at the back door and finished his monologue without missing a beat. I felt like I was back in L.A. witnessing experimental theater until I realized we’d lost power, and Chris was just a very enterprising actor.
Paul and I came home to a dark house that night that got cold pretty quickly and stayed that way for a day or two until the power was restored. I’m no stranger to power loss, of course, having been through two serious California earthquakes, but I’m not a fan of being cold.
I arrived in North Carolina with the right clothes because like every actor in L.A. who’s worked on night shoots (not my favorite, I have to say), I have the obligatory down coat, fake Ugg boots, and silk thermals that can easily be hidden beneath even the fanciest cocktail dresses. I’m a film set veteran, and my wardrobe reflects that.
Here, I use my warm clothes all winter long (minus the cocktail dresses that can hide long underwear). We have a winter weather car here too.
Paul bought an old Land Rover from a guy in Spartanburg for $800 when we first moved here “for winter driving.” Don’t ask me the price tag for tricking it out until it looks like it’s ready for a safari. I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.
I don’t complain though because he loves it, and it’s even handier than my fake Ugg boots when the streets are slick.
Yes, we do get ice and snow, but not a lot. It creates a stunning photo op for a day, but melts pretty quickly, and then we get on with our normal routine. It’s enough to make a sled day a very special occurrence. Enough to remind us how cozy a fire can be, especially with hot chocolate and marshmallows. And enough for Land Rover owners to get their manly-man fix looking for cars to pull out of ditches.
Sometimes pipes freeze, and make a mess. Sometimes cars won’t start. Sometimes California Chihuahuas refuse to go outside and later you might find your favorite bed skirt christened with a little something. Winters here aren’t without their challenges.
But of course, it could always be worse, and it is worse even just a few miles up the mountain. Generally, Tryon’s winters aren’t bad.
My favorite thing about winter here is that it’s temporary, and no sooner than you’ve pulled out your pretty wooly scarves, you’ll find that spring has sprung. What that season brings to Tryon will take your breath away and knock the cashmere blend socks right off your feet. Just wait and see.