Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

I’ve traveled a lot of miles, and I still stare in bewilderment at people who tell me they’ve moved to a place because “You can’t beat the weather.”




thumbnail photo by chuck beard | snow photo via flickr creative commons

 

It was the ’80s. It was almost Christmas.

Twelve inches of snow fell in one day. Everybody knows there was more snow in the ’80s. Maybe not as much as in the ’70s, but close.

I’m home from college. My buddy Rob runs Pitt’s radio station. The snow fell into the night.

We decided the obvious choice was to go for an 8-mile jog. Meet in Squirrel Hill, do some laps around Homewood Cemetery and return to our respective homes.

Ever jogged down a beach? Farther and farther into the surf? To keep from falling, you need to step like a hurdler. That’s how we ran that night. Like horses doing fancy canters in the snow.

It was frickin’ heaven.

I’ve traveled a lot of miles, and I still stare in bewilderment at people who tell me they’ve moved to a place because “You can’t beat the weather.”

I stare when they speak in defense of some mass-market-designed housing plan where they don’t greet their next-door neighbor, don’t know more than five people, have no sidewalks, nowhere to walk, no town, no bar that’s not in a mall, no children nearby, no memories, no “there” there beside the TV and the back porch looking out on some cinder-block wall dividing them from another back yard just like theirs. “But the weather…” they chant, as the eyes go dull.

This issue is for the winter-weather hater, but it’ll end with a lover. A lover of the glorious, gargantuan chill of a western Pennsylvania winter. Its scoured landscape, the wonder of the pencil lines empty trees draw into our soft sky. How the cold compels us to gather and huddle. How it gives us two homes. Summer Pittsburgh, you can walk within, fragrant and warm in the night. And Winter Pittsburgh, seen from the exact same spot, where if you laid down for the night you wouldn’t wake up. Damn right, you can’t “beat it.”

Rob and I are climbing Forbes Avenue in a headwind when a guy in a two-door ’70s beater with the windows down drives up beside us. The only other vehicles we’d seen that night had “City of Pittsburgh” badged on the door and chains on the tires. The guy fishtails. Snow blows out of his wheel wells as he fights to match our slower pace.

“WAAAAAHOOOOOOO!” he screams. “Ain’t this something! Ain’t this the best! WAAAAHOOOOOOO, boys! Check me out, I AM THE MIDNIGHT —” and then he calls himself a well-known phrase that rhymes with “other trucker” and tells us that though he is the “midnight,” we are bad as Hell. “Bad as Hell, boys, goin’ out tonight! BAD AS HELL!” He roars off as we laugh and cheer.

Half a minute later Rob stops dead and says, “Look, man.” A hundred yards away, in front of the cemetery’s massive columbarium, stand 10 dark … figures … stock-still in the snow, like guardians defending the dead, like the crazy “Dungeons and Dragons” players they probably are, re-enacting some fantasy game on a night when they’re sure no one will bother them. Or ... are they? We stand and watch, wondering what on God’s not-so-green earth is going on. And then one of them moves.

We run like Hell.

This winter memory has been burned in my brain for 30 years.

I can’t think of much I’d rather be than Bad As Hell, and I can’t think of folks I’d have rather grown up with than the Midnight “Other Trucker” and 10 whackos who thought standing harmlessly in the snow on a freezing night in a cemetery was cool. Those are my people. Pittsburgh made us. Her weather had a lot to do with it. So suck it up and deal.
And like Dickens’ character, “It was said of him” (or her, or … they) “that he knew how to keep Christmas” (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever rite that’s close to your soul) “well.”

Keep it well.

Every one.  

Read more from David Conrad on his blog at clementcrawford.blogspot.com or follow him at crawford_conrad on Instagram  

 

 

 

 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

It's a Sign: Could Pittsburgh Be the New Hollywood?

It's a Sign: Could Pittsburgh Be the New Hollywood?

Pittsburgh could be well on its way to replicating one of Hollywood’s most prominent landmarks.
Where in Pittsburgh to Dump Your Old TV or Computer

Where in Pittsburgh to Dump Your Old TV or Computer

You are going to want to print this list and keep it handy.
Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Watch: Jameson Taillon's Remarkable Recovery

Sports media company Whistle Sports documented Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon's recovery workout regime.
Celebrating 75 Years: Connecting History with Community

Celebrating 75 Years: Connecting History with Community

The Heinz History Center’s World War II traveling exhibit focuses on western Pennsylvania’s ties to history.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in April

This month's best bets in the ’Burgh.
Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Take a Hike: 10 of the Best Trails in the Pittsburgh Area

Lace up your sneakers or hiking boots and head outdoors for 10 great walks for spring.
412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

412 Food Rescue: Revolutionary Repurposing

Local nonprofit organization 412 Food Rescue is taking food that otherwise would be tossed aside and connecting it with those in need through-of-the-moment technology.
Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Spring Fashion: The Height of White

Fashion is white haute this spring with the best looks from local stores.
Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

Restaurant Review: Pork & Beans

The latest restaurant from the Richard DeShantz Restaurant Group brings Texas-style smoked meats and more to Downtown.
Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Daytripping: Brave the Cave

Go subterranean at Laurel Caverns, the largest cave in Pennsylvania.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


It's a Sign: Could Pittsburgh Be the New Hollywood?

It's a Sign: Could Pittsburgh Be the New Hollywood?

Pittsburgh could be well on its way to replicating one of Hollywood’s most prominent landmarks.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

Dish Osteria and Bar To Close

The beloved Pittsburgh institution will serve its last meal in April.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

The (Very Good) Brewery You Should Be Patronizing in Homestead

Voodoo Brewery is an enticing alternative to the many chains in and around the Waterfront.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Steelers’ Philosophy Back on Display After Hightower Flirtation

Even as they entertained Dont’a Hightower for nearly seven hours during a free-agent recruiting trip to the South Side, the Steelers never lost sight of who they are or what they’re all about.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

Turn Your Bath into a Spa with These Oils

The miniature bath- and shower-oil collection from Aromatherapy Associates makes every shower a luxury experience.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

The CMU Film Fest Opens with One of 2016's Best

Reviews of two films appearing at the 2017 Carnegie Mellon International Film Festival: "I, Daniel Blake," and "The Eagle Huntress." Plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Combating the Cold: How This Couple Pulled Off Their Winter Wedding

Happy to see warmer weather? This gorgeous winter wedding may actually have you missing the snow.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Auction Alert: Own a Piece of Artistry

Looking for a unique piece? Inventory from Artistry, which closed up shop in the Strip District after more than 25 years in business, will be sold at auction this weekend.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A New Kind of Summer at Slippery Rock University

A New Kind of Summer at Slippery Rock University

The university will hold an environmental camp at the end of June.

Comments