Hudson River Ice
This winter started off with a shock of unseasonably cold weather for which I was most definitely not prepared. I finally reconciled with the arctic temps just in time for it to warm up (and then get cold again—it's hard to keep up) and I'm glad that winter and I are back on good terms because I have a special kind of love for winter in New York.
Five years ago (!) on January 11th, 2013, I very quickly uprooted my life in Ohio and moved to New York for what I started calling a "trial period" of two months. I had wanted to live in New York for most of my life, but I still was wary of making the commitment. A (somewhat surprise) break-up triggered the quick getaway and I had a job that allowed me to work remotely, easing the transition. Even though I was pretty sure about the outcome, I wanted my move to New York to be backed up by evidence and not just romance.
I spent those two months exploring the city—on my lunch break, after work and on the weekends—and although I had been here many times before, I discovered that living in New York 24/7 was infinitely different than being here on vacation. I had friends here, but I was alone more often than not, and I learned more about myself in those two months than I had in the several years prior.
I had initially thought that the winter was the worst possible time for my trial run, thinking that the city would be miserably cold and bleak. Ohio winters are no joke, but after a life of heated seats and limited time spent outside, I dreaded having to walk outdoors so much in the winter. I quickly realized, however, that the right clothes and shoes can make all of the difference, and I came to cherish the way the city empties out after the holidays, the way the bare trees expose previously obscured views and of course, the magical way everything looks coated in a fresh layer of snow (fresh being the operative word).
I was worried at the beginning of this season that I had finally lived in New York long enough to become immune to its charms. But then I layered up and took a walk along the icy Hudson—mesmerized by the bobbing ice floes—and remembered why I fell in love with this city in the first place.
In 1780, during the American Revolution, the New York harbor completely froze over, and in the 1800s, the East River froze over several times—solid enough that it was possible to walk from Manhattan to Brooklyn. A combination of high salinity levels and frequent boat traffic usually keeps the Hudson from freezing over completely, although it's technically still possible.
When the two months were up and I went back to Ohio, I knew it wouldn't be long until I returned to New York again for good, and five months later I moved for real. It was unbearably hot in those first weeks, and the winters here can feel relentlessly grey and cold, a season of death and deep freeze. But after several years spent feeling as if I was merely existing in a self-imposed dormancy, it was in the dead of winter that I truly started to come alive again.