This is the thing about winter in the northeast: it’s cold. Not as cold as in the Midwest, where the winds build up over the lakes and the prairies and blow double digit negatives for more days than Noah sailed that ark. But still. Going out to the grocery store in 17 degree weather in the city becomes a task of monumental proportions, because I can’t just pop out to the garage and let the car warm up for ten minutes before I get in. Instead I find my hat and gloves (which tend to migrate to odd parts of the house, like the shelf in the bathroom where I keep my hairbrush) and hold my gloves in my teeth while I put on my hat. I take my coat and scarf from the hanger (gloves still in teeth, because if I put them down who knows where they’ll end up) and have to decide whether to put on the coat or the scarf first. This may sound like a simple decision. It is not. Complicating factors include what sort of sweater I am wearing and whether it has one of those big drape-y collars. I get into my coat, button it up, pull the hood of my scarf up over my hat, and wrap the ends around my face so that only my eyes are showing.

It is usually right about then that I realize I haven’t put my headphones in.

Sometimes, though, there are the unexpected delights of winter. The snow flurry Thursday afternoon that paused for a moment outside my office just as the clouds broke over lower Manhattan so that the sun lit up all the little flakes. The crisp freshness of the air, as if the cold somehow leaches out all of the taxicab fumes and humidity.

It’s nights like these I have Florida dreams, palm trees silhouetted against the setting sun and white sand beaches like you thought you would only see in the movies. It’s nights like these I miss the Hague, where it never went much below freezing and the snow crocus by the Parliament building started coming up in February.

I fly to Athens Wednesday. Highs of 50. It seems positively tropical.