Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Buffalo vs. Charlottesville, Part II

What makes a city a great place to live? Why will people flock to one area and flee from another?

The weather is a factor. Buffalo always loses points when the city rankers consider its long winter. This is unfair, in light of the fact that the rankers don't seem to consider a hot summer to be as much of a drawback. It's not fun to be cold, but it's equally uncomfortable to be too hot; to work up a sweat walking from your front door to your car; to be unable to exercise outdoors after 8:00am--unless you want to risk heatstroke. And here's something no one seems to consider: some people like winter.

When we first moved here, Charlottesville's wimpy winters depressed me. They still do. In Buffalo, you send your kids to school in their snow pants and they go out to play at recess every day. In Charlottesville, the kids are kept in from recess if there is snow on the ground. How lame is that?

Buffalo winters are long, it's true. The first snow will sometimes come in October. Last year, a freak storm dumped 23 inches of snow on the city on October 13. The last snow comes in April, and I have seen snow in May. The average snowfall for the season is 90", but sometimes that entire allowance will fall in a single week. On the bright side, Lake Erie, which cools the climate in the summer, keeps the cold from getting too extreme, so the end result is snowy winters that are usually not unbearably cold, although the windchill can be formidable.

Still, the Buffalo summer makes up for its winter. The temperature rarely reaches the 90s, there is less humidity than we have here in Virginia, and a cool breeze comes off the lake. And the lake, besides keeping the summer cool is giant summer playground. One thing that sucks about Charlottesville is that it's not situated on a large body of water. I really miss living near the Great Lakes--Buffalo sits right on Lake Erie, but is also close to Lake Ontario.

When you think about it, it seems preferable to live in a city with a mild summer and a harsh winter, since summer is when kids are out of school and everybody wants to be outside, whereas in the winter, you've pretty much planned on being indoors anyway. It's so frustrating to live here and be stuck inside on hot summer days.

My point is, a city with a harsh winter should not automatically be branded as a bad place to live.

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