Archived Story

Winter drives shovel holders plain bananas

Published 10:37am Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Column: Tales from Exit 22, by Al Batt

I was picking bananas in my yard at Christmas.

Thanks, global warming.

I only thought I was picking bananas. I’d gone short pants in the winter crazy. I couldn’t tell where my nose ended and the handkerchief began. My breath froze in the air and fell to the ground with a tinkle as I put tracks in the snow. I ate lunch by catching snowflakes on my tongue. Winter takes the world by storm.

We get our fair share of weather and it’s not always fair. We have fairy tale winters — Grimm.

Andrew Wyeth wrote, “I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the seemingly dead feeling of winter. Something awaits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.”

Others don’t feel that way. A winter-intolerant friend from Arizona told me, “Your winters sound as if they would be well worth missing.”

I plan to send him some snow just so I could call later and ask him if he got my drift.

We whine about the weather. It builds community spirit. We have winter so we can say things like, “This is nothing compared to the winter of ’83.” Even those who never complain about the weather complain about winter. We declare that while this may be God’s country, He doesn’t winter here.

I know that winter is the best time to be in Minnesota. There’s more room then. When the wind blows from the north, many Minnesotans are moved — to Texas, Arizona or Florida.

I like winter. I look upon it as a unique gift. Some people look at winter as a gift they’d like to return without a receipt. They want to sue Mother Nature for being an unfit mother.

Who hasn’t met another driver on a nasty winter day when the wind was so strong it blew a pig into a pickle jar, without wondering, “What is that idiot doing driving around on a day like this?”

When it comes to winter, we remember big. I remember it being colder than the attic of an igloo the year I had to clip my toenails and toss them into the stove to keep the chill off my blains because we’d run out of wood. It was so cold that Joan Rivers froze over. I had to put a sweater on the furnace on a day as cold as a walrus’ knee.

My goosebumps worked three shifts when it was so cold it hurt my feelings. It was colder than the nose of a snowplow seated on a cast iron seat in a tin privy on the shady side of an iceberg. I had to throw another blanket on the fire. I’d set a kettle of boiling water outside. When I checked on it, the water had frozen solid, but the ice was still warm. I had to scrape the window on the microwave. I learned that it’s not safe to defrost body parts in a microwave. Facial hair freezes outdoors.

You could walk up to someone and slap the moustache clean off his face. If it’s so cold, why don’t I winter elsewhere? It wouldn’t do any good. It’s cold everywhere in Minnesota. Besides, winter brings people together for the warmth.

So much snow fell that it was impossible to see a white cat. When I was a kid, I had to walk five miles through the snow just to be able to walk another five miles through the snow. Rocking is what I do to get my car out of a snowbank after I’ve finished chipping the dog off a fire hydrant. A neighbor likes snow because it keeps him from having to go places he doesn’t want to go.

My wife wants me to shovel the walk and the deck. I tell her that I can’t find the snow shovel. She tells me that it’s in the same place where I hide it every spring. I’ve got to find a better hiding place for that shovel.

Ice is everywhere, which makes it easy to skip a rock on a lake. It’s not the ice that gets you. It’s the gravity.

The theater of sneezes lasts long enough that some folks feel the need to rest their faces in the palms of their hands and sigh before saying the winter prayer, “Take me now, Lord.”

If we can’t stand the winter, do we deserve the spring?

I’d better get. I need to jumpstart my wife’s cellphone.

I hope you winter well.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.