They say there are 10 words for ice and snow in Labradoran Inuit, nearly 50 in West Greenlandic and at least a few choice phrases in Washington.
Here are some of the more tasteful ones:
"I can't deal with this anymore!" said Molly McKay of Alexandria, who spent hours yesterday trying to get her 4-year-old daughter to kindergarten and herself to her job in downtown Washington, only to have to arrange a pickup because of early school dismissal.
"Enough already!" said Leslie A. Hotaling, the District's public works director, who has been working round-the-clock on snow removal since Feb. 14, yesterday marking the city's 18th weather mobilization this winter.
"I'm tired, and I'm fed up with shoveling!" said Eusebio Guzman Jr., the superintendent of a 72-unit apartment building in Adams Morgan who also serves as a one-man maintenance crew.
"I can't stand it," said Rob DeFeo, one of the capital's most treasured federal employees. He is the National Park Service horticulturalist who officially forecasts when Washington's internationally famous cherry trees will bloom. "I've had it with this winter!"
So has everybody else.
At first, back in December, waking up to those gently falling snowflakes was a treat. It was beautiful; it even seemed novel. But two months and several feet of snow later -- with yet another storm swirling through the region, bringing the prospect of snarled commutes, unshoveled driveways, slow trains and mixed messages from school administrators -- the attitude has changed just a little bit.
"I am way sick of it," said Patti Hight, a public relations executive from Falls Church who gestured with her coffee cup at an enormous snowdrift across the Bradlee Center parking lot in Alexandria. "I think we've had enough. . . . It will be very nice when spring comes."
Which, by the way, won't be anytime soon. If everyone in the Washington area is feeling a bit out of sorts because of the extended cold temperatures and the far-above-average snowfall, just wait until later today and tomorrow. That's when yesterday morning's "nuisance-type snow" -- just one inch officially, but it came at rush hour and on the heels of last week's crippling storm -- will turn into the real thing. The National Weather Service is forecasting up to a foot of snow by tomorrow morning, and that's not all. It will be an ill-humored tempest, too.
"This storm is going to be cranky," said Barbara Watson, a meteorologist in the Weather Service's Sterling office.
"Cranky?" said Hotaling. "No! Not more, not again."
Last year at this time, the bars and boutiques of downtown Annapolis were celebrating an early spring with 70-degree days, and tourists and locals flocked to City Dock, eager to eat, drink and spend money. This year few people, except members of the Maryland General Assembly and lobbyists, are slip-sliding across the unshoveled downtown sidewalks. The already limited parking spots are often obscured by snow. The shoppers are few.
"It's boring," said Amanda Howard, an employee of the White House, a boutique that specializes in white, cream-colored and khaki clothes. The snow has stopped the usual stream of customers, "making the day really long," she said.
Howard stays busy cleaning the store and making inventories of skimpy spring clothes and shoes that are impractical on a day better suited to down jackets and clunky flannel-lined rubber boots. Even the few customers who manage to wend their way in, tracking snow and slush through the tony shop, glance around and decide they can't deal with the linen sandals and strapless sundresses. Not yet, anyway.
"So they don't buy," Howard said, which means she is back to trying to while away the long day. "It goes by so slow."
But the day goes by really quickly for other workers: the snow-clearing road crews, raking in the overtime and exhausted by now.
Valerie Burnette Edgar, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said the crew members have been happy with the overtime pay, but even that perk is starting to wear thin. "That certainly helps with the bills, but at this point, they're ready for spring," Edgar said.
"They've had a back-breaking month," Joan Morris, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation, said of the state's road crews. "They went from the blizzard to flooding to the high winds to potholes to a surprise storm this morning, and then they'll be back tomorrow for more."
Or consider the operators at Metro's customer service call center in Silver Spring. On Feb. 18, the center logged 15,000 telephone calls from irate and frazzled rail commuters, far above the average 6,000 to 7,000 calls daily. Stella Criswell earned more than 30 hours of overtime last week, glued to her phone, and all she could say yesterday was: "I was off today, and I was kind of glad, because I was exhausted."
And so some will work at home today and tomorrow, once again. "That's what laptops are for," said Karen Medford, who spent two hours and 45 minutes yesterday driving the 37 miles from her home in Upper Marlboro to her office in Rockville.
"I have the flexibility," she said. "But I'm definitely ready for spring."
So is DeFeo, who will make his much-anticipated cherry blossom forecast next week, when the National Cherry Blossom Festival organizers will hold a news conference. The festival begins March 22 and ends April 7. The parade will be April 5. Usually by now, daffodils have poked their heads through the ground, the red maples have started to puff up and the cherry tree buds are about to turn green, the first biological step on their way to becoming blossoms.
Not so this year.
"I'm not sure I'll be able to say a whole lot," DeFeo said. "Maybe, 'Pray for some warm weather.' "
Staff writers John F. Kelly, Annie Gowen, Hamil R. Harris, Darragh Johnson, Monte Reel and Katherine Shaver contributed to this report.