Each winter day is one closer to spring

posted Jan. 2, 2018 9:20 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Al Batt, Hartland, Minn. (Freeborn County)

I put up a sign at the end of our driveway, “Snow free to a good home.”

Our winter began when someone looked out the window and said, “Look, it’s snowing!”

It always comes as a surprise. We seem to have missed the snow memo.

Someone broke into song: “Let it snow, let it snow.” It quickly became “Let it stop, let it stop.”

We get the drift. They haven’t fixed winter from last year. We shovel just as much partly sunny as we do partly cloudy in a shake short of a snow globe. We were snowed on, snowed in and snowed under. It took me two hours to clean the snow from the car. That was when I discovered it wasn’t my car.

I had to put snow tires on the toaster.

“Do you think it will snow?” I’m asked.

“It’ll miss a good chance if it doesn’t.”

Does cold have a smell? If it does, it smelled cold. It was colder than the nose of a snowplow. It was so cold that my coat was wearing a coat. Dogs had to use jumper cables to start squirrels. Words froze in midair and had to be cooked in a frying pan before we could hear what we were talking about. The only way a guy could write his name in the snow was with a blow torch. It was so cold that every time a card player dealt a hand, it had a mitten on it.

Warm weather had called in sick.

Winter is always coming. Even when it’s here.

I recall days of toe-numbing cold in an old house that lacked insulation. I wasn’t always efficient in closing the door. My father reminded me that it wasn’t our job to heat the state of Minnesota.

One of the best winters of my youth was the one when our thermometer broke. Without it, the cold weather didn’t bother us.

Cold enough for you? That’s a frequent question. There are questions that don’t require answers. I reply, “No, I wish it were cold enough that the trees chopped themselves into firewood.”

I take photographs of winter and Photoshop the cold out.

I dress as if I’d lost a bet. It’s the staying warm look. Go without earmuffs one day, go without ears the next. If people can tell what sex you are, you’re not wearing enough clothes. Sometimes, by the time I get all my clothes on, I’ve forgotten where I was going. I once got a cold in the head because I had a run in my stocking cap. Some folks have found that dressing for winter means wearing a house.

How do we find the weather in Minnesota? I open the door and there it is.

We become Janu-wary. Each year, we get a winter walloping. Snow, cold, wind, ice and darkness. The cold turns Icy Hot into just plain Icy. The ice makes winter worth its salt. Winter is the wind on top of our wings. Only two of three people who move to my home area stay here. The north wind blows the third one to Iowa. How do we deal with the darkness of winter? We turn up the brightness on our cellphones.

We love winter, but the feeling wears off. No place seems lonelier than a playground in the winter. Winter doesn’t go anywhere. We tire of giving the both hands in the pockets and nod of the head salute.

We pine for lost mittens, but we’re no winter whiners. There was a hole the size of a wading pool in the ice on a local lake. An optimist was fishing there. Optimists winter here.

We wait for the National Weather Service to issue a weather advisement saying that we should consider living elsewhere. We liked last winter. It’s like a history book.

This year’s edition could be a nasty winter or it could be a mild one. We’ll know when spring comes. I’m just thankful that we don’t get all the storms that are predicted.

In winter, we hope for the best but expect the worst. Life quiets. The weather provides all the action most people can stand.

The first snowfall means we’re one day closer to spring. When I was a boy, no car was dressed without a block heater. Spring arrived the day someone asked, “Did you remember to unplug the car?”

I wish you each a winter that you’ll enjoy and a complimentary throat lozenge.

Happy New Year. May your happiness last long after your resolutions fade.






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