I have five brothers. One lives in Alaska, one in Arizona, two in New Hampshire and one in Florida. Choose the one who is my clear favorite at this time of year. If you picked the one in Florida who lives in a beachfront high-rise with a bar on the first floor, the one with a bona fide guest room with its own bathroom, the one who loves to pay Scrabble and eat Cape Cod potato chips until dawn, you win. This is the brother who meets my husband and me at the airport and drives us to his place where we jump into shorts, T-shirt and flip flops. We hop on the elevator, and press the express-to-ground-floor button.

The door slides open ON THE BEACH. There is music playing, people laughing, and Margaritas being sipped through a straw. Everything is turquoise. The warm waves are gently rolling on the shore and making that shhhhh sound. Tan beautiful people are playing volleyball. There is the scent of Coppertone in the air.

We have paid our dues. We have shoveled and scraped and sanded and salted. We have hauled wood down to the cellar and carried ashes up from the cellar. Roofs have been shoveled and the deck has been cleared over and over again.

The driveway has been snow-blowed and shoveled, and sprinkled with sand, peat moss and, in emergencies, the occasional cat litter.

We got our first seed catalogue on December 26. That was the day I slipped on the ice, not on the front steps or out by the mailbox, but in the shower!

I haven’t been for a walk in weeks. And as a consequence, I feel myself flabbing a little more each day.

They say on the Boston TV station that we are about to get the coldest weather we’ve had in years. Years! What kind of sadistic people have they got working there any way. They tell us the temperature is going to be about 1 zillion below but when you add the “chill factor” it will be even worse.

“Dress in layers,” they say.

My husband just remarked, “You know, it’s true what they day about the lack of sun.” I think he’s referring to our gloomy moods these days. A big day of cloudless sunshine would do a lot to perk us up.

We’re gulping down those fabulous tangerines that show up every year around this time. They are usually so cheap and then when they’ve hooked you so you can’t live without them, they triple the price, just to be mean. I’m looking for that good old January thaw. A friend, a beekeeper, once told me that the January thaw is Nature’s way of dealing with the bees’ needing to attend to elimination functions during a long cold winter like this one. I think they might be out of luck this year.

There was a time when I would regard those who went to Florida for the winter as whoosies. When they would talk about this or that golf course and daily sunshine, I would sniff with disdain.

That was before my favorite brother moved to Florida.