We're just a couple of weeks away from the new year and that puts us pretty firmly into the Capital Region winter. It has not been too bad yet, but we all know it's just a matter of time. A lot of my life has been spent in the Capital Region. The winter is a time that leaves me feeling torn between my love of the season and the frustration we all know it brings.

I decided I needed to break it down.

1. I love the snow. I just do. We get heavy snow occasionally here, but a lot of the winter we just have just enough to make it pretty without enough to make it a real problem. That's the sweet spot and aside from major storms, we end up there for a lot of the winter. Here's an added bonus that I don't think enough people appreciate: how quiet winter can be with all the snow on the ground and trees that helps absorb sound.

2. Ski trips are easy. For lots of the country, a ski trip means plane tickets and an expensive hotel stay. For us, it can be a day trip if we want. It's easy to forget how lucky we are to be near great skiing mountains. Hitting the slopes can be done without blocking out a week of vacation.

3. Hockey season. I grew up playing hockey and I still love being a New York sports fan in the winter. We also get to see some high-performing college teams with RPI and Union in the area. Plenty of rinks mean we can go skating (and yes, they are open in the summer, but it just feels right to go in the winter!) whenever we want. Also, we get events like the Saratoga Frozen Springs Classic.

4. Decorations. I love the friendly neighborhood competition when it comes to putting up the most festive, fun decorations. We have some really impressive Christmas lights displays in the area. It's just fun to drive around some evenings and take a look at what the rest of the neighborhood is up.

I could go on, but let's move on to what we all know is coming - what to hate.

1. The snow. Yes, it's number one on the list of things I love and the list of things I hate. Getting up early to make sure the car is dusted off and warmed up - miserable. Giving yourself the extra time you need to commute safely - miserable. Shoveling or even snow blowing - pretty miserable. As beautiful as fun as the snow can be, it can also make day-to-day life in the Capital Region a real pain for a few months a year. This year has not been too bad yet. I am hoping mother nature keeps it within reason.

2. Driving on icy roads. I don't love driving even when the weather is nice. Throw in a sheet of ice on the roads and I'm not in for a good time. It slows everything down, makes my commute longer, and is more dangerous than it should be a lot of the time. Snow removal can be good or bad depending on where you live. Salt on the roads works eventually but also contributes to a lot of wear on your vehicle. You're going to end up driving on icy roads in the winter here and it's never a good time.

3. The dark. Leaving work in the dark is awful. A lot of us barely get any sunlight at all during the winter. It makes the cold worse, the snow worse, and leaves me looking longingly at those direct-to-Florida flights out of Albany airport. Get me some sunlight, please!

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