Florida heat makes the North seem like an enviable place to be.

Story: Rheya Tanner

Good gracious, it’s hot. Every year, I’m blindsided by how quickly Florida air becomes a wet blanket. Some days, I wish I lived where Old Man Winter visited more often. But then I remember how he snubbed me the first time we met, and I reconsider.

I’d just turned 8. My family was visiting relatives in the long-forgotten plains of upstate New York. Dover Plains, to be exact. (If you’ve never gone there, don’t.)

My brother and I desperately wanted a snow day, but that wasn’t guaranteed in November. The whole 22-hour drive, and most of the week, yielded not so much as a flurry. We were disappointed, as were my parents, who had to hear us. But one glorious morning, it happened. It wasn’t pretty and felt more like slush than snow—no good for sleds or snowballs or anything they sing about in “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.”

My brother and I didn’t know that, though, and we didn’t care. We were clamoring to get out of Nana’s stuffy old cottage and finally explore the frozen unknown.

We lasted 20 minutes.

Chalk it up to culture shock or faded childhood memory, but I can’t recall how it went down. I remember making a sorry excuse of a snowball with my bare hands. I remember receiving a face full of muddy slush from my brother and struggling to get it out of my hair. I remember feeling colder than I’d ever felt.

I wasn’t in a hurry to relive that experience. In fact, a decade passed before I saw snow again—and promptly slipped in it.

Do I hate the cold? Hard to tell. I was born and raised in a state known for sunshine. Cold is both a novelty and a threat. I’ve heard enough from relatives to know Northern winters are nothing to shake a snowshoe at.

I’ve never shoveled a driveway or navigated black ice. I’m already cold most of the time and would unquestionably be miserable like I was on that slushy day 14 years ago.

But my curiosity is getting the better of me. I adore the idea of the cold, so pure and quiet and somehow ethereal. I’ve never opened presents on a true white Christmas, and feel my spirit is missing something for it. I’m tempted to try my luck with winter, just to see if the beauty is worth the hassle.

And to my brother, if he’s reading this: You can’t come.