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Even in the midst of a very cold New Hampshire winter, hope springs eternal

By TERESA SANTOSKI - Tete-a-tete | Mar 5, 2020

“Look what just bloomed: New arrivals for spring!” read the email’s subject line. It was an ad from my favorite clothing store announcing the release of their new spring collection. Despite my better judgment, I spent a good hour browsing pastel T-shirts, cropped pants and flowy chiffon skirts.

I could certainly afford to buy a few pieces to freshen up my wardrobe, but I would just be setting myself up for disappointment. Over the years, I’ve learned the hard way that spring is kind of a lie here in New Hampshire.

I remember buying a lovely spring dress to wear for Easter, which happened to fall on March 31st of that particular year. I might’ve been able to get away with it had I been going into a nice, warm church building, but we were going to a sunrise service on top of our local mountain.

The thing about a sunrise service is that the service itself starts at sunrise. This means you have to get to the location where the service is being held before the sun comes up. This also means that, before the sun comes up, you will likely be standing there in the dark and the cold for a good amount of time.

At the last minute, I wisely decided to re-wear my Christmas dress, which had long sleeves and could be worn with a thick pair of leggings and snow boots. It wasn’t like anyone was going to see the dress under my parka anyway.

It was definitely the better choice. The best choice would’ve been to go to an indoor service, but we had already committed to the sunrise service. And so, I celebrated Easter outdoors on a chilly mountaintop while standing in a snowdrift. I like to think that my shivering added a nice vibrato to my voice while I was singing hymns.

That experience taught me that my money is better spent on winter and summer clothing than spring clothing. Our seasons tend to progress from snow to bone-chilling rain and mud to suffocating humidity.

We rarely hit the right temperature and weather combination for those long-sleeved, mid-length, floral print dresses that seem to be such a staple of transitional spring wardrobes. If you can’t resist the temptation to buy spring clothing, your best bet is to buy pieces that can be worn in the summer heat. I can’t imagine wanting to wear a long-sleeved dress in the New Hampshire humidity unless you’re concerned about sunburn or you’re enjoying the pleasant breezes off a body of water.

I don’t consider us as being clear of the snowy season until the middle of May. When we moved to New Hampshire as I was starting high school, I thought we’d be finished with snow by early April. I changed my mind on that pretty quickly one April day when I had to walk home from the bus stop in sandals in a good inch of snow.

Thankfully, a friend had an extra pair of socks in her gym locker that I could borrow. Don’t worry, they were clean. They were also clean when I tried to return them to her, but she insisted that I keep them.

I can understand why. Walking through snow in socks and leather sandals is a quick and easy way to bring utter ruination upon your socks. What was once a cute and fun pattern of dolphins playing with beachballs now looked like a bunch of rabid killer whales attacking meatballs.

Once you’ve walked uphill for a quarter mile through snow in socks and sandals, you absolutely cannot wait to never do it again.

I would much rather have my feet be too warm than wet and cold. For outdoor footwear, I exclusively wear my snow boots from early October to about the end of April.

I’ve had my snow boots for more than a decade, and I still get compliments on them. They’re the perfect boots for a New Hampshire winter because I can fold them down or wear them pulled all the way up over my knees depending on how much snow there is on the ground. I waterproof and re-sole them regularly. Each boot weighs about six pounds, so they also provide a great winter workout.

I might wear my sneakers if I feel like tempting fate. They have mesh panels to allow for breathability and air circulation, which means they also let in water and mud. The sandals usually come out in early May, but I keep a very suspicious eye on the weather forecast until Memorial Day.

So, as tempting as those new spring clothes may be, there doesn’t seem to be much place for them in the wardrobe of the average Granite Stater. You might be able to swing a pastel T-shirt if you layer it under a cardigan – and then layer that under a parka. But the cropped pants and the flowy chiffon skirt just aren’t going to work with snow boots.

Some of the new spring jewelry is really pretty, though. Maybe I could buy a floral necklace or a bracelet with fruit charms dangling from it. I mean, it’s not like that’s going to get wet or muddy – unless the mud sucks off one of my boots and I face-plant in such a way that affects my jewelry. Which cannot be entirely ruled out, but still.

Even in the midst of a New Hampshire winter, hope springs eternal.

Tete-a-tete runs the first Thursday of the month. Teresa Santoski can be reached at tsantoski@gmail.com or via www.teresasantoski.com.

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