It’s Snowing in Upstate New York

What it’s like to live through a six-month winter, and what it can teach you about… I don’t know, life and stuff? I’m cold.

Jude Ellison S. Doyle
4 min readNov 3, 2023

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A small town covered in snow. It looks idyllic. It feels like Hades blew the chill of the grave straight into your bones.
I’m the snow-covered lump on the left. No, the other one. Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

Winter in upstate New York always lasts just long enough to make you sure that spring will never actually happen ever again. Before I moved here, back in 2018, I Googled “weather” and learned that it typically snows from late October through April, sometimes the beginning of May — at least five months, often more like six.

The fact that I still moved here after Googling this mystifies me. I did send a round of texts asking if we could call it off. But my partner had already taken a new job, and quit his old job, and sublet our apartment to a college student, so move I did, and now I can tell you what six months of snow feels like.

It feels like this: One day, the snow starts falling. It’s pretty. It’s white. It doesn’t stop. You go inside. You eventually stop going outside for anything other than emergencies. You accumulate layers; first it’s two pairs of socks, and then three layers of shirt, and then a wool hat that you wear indoors, and then it’s a hoodie made out of thick blanket material that you sleep in, and eventually start to work in, and then an additional couple of blankets over your work chair and blanket hoodie and three shirts and multiple pairs of socks, just in case.

This stops feeling extreme. This starts feeling normal. Gradually, you forget that it was ever anything other than winter. There are false thaws in March, and in April. There are thaws at the beginning of May. When they come, you don’t trust them. It’s winter here. It has always been winter here. You have always been here, in winter. What is “scorcher?” What is this thing called “shorts?” These things are forbidden to us, stranger. They come from the Before Times, when man grew proud, and destroyed the sun.

Anyway: It started snowing the day after Halloween, is what I’m telling you. The process has already begun. I’ve got two shirts on now, but I can sense the others hanging in my closet, waiting to wrap me in their flannel embrace the moment I let my guard down. I am telling you all this now, while I can still see it coming, because by the time spring arrives, I will not know how to…

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Jude Ellison S. Doyle

Author of “Trainwreck” (Melville House, ‘16) and “Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers” (Melville House, ‘19). Columns published far and wide across the Internet.