Archived Story

Say, has Minnesota been cold enough for you?

Published 9:22am Wednesday, March 12, 2014

We spend our winter days answering the question, “Cold enough for you?” How do you answer that? You answer it by saying, “It’s so cold that …”

1. … I opened the refrigerator door to heat the house.

2. … legislative hot air froze.

3. … my mailman scans my mail and emails it to me.

4. … I chipped a tooth eating soup.

5. … I had to use ice scrapers on my contact lenses.

6. … a snowman begged to come indoors.

7. … I didn’t clean my house. I defrosted it.



The woman said she bought a car equipped with a self-parking function that eliminates the difficulty of parallel parking. She told me that she’d been driving for 40 years and that the last time she had parallel parked was when she took driver’s training. I thanked her for sharing and added, “Parking is such street sorrow.”


A former kid

I congratulated a stranger whose parked car carried a bumper sticker proclaiming that her child was an honor student. The proud mother showed me a photo of the child.

I am the youngest in my family. There were no bumper stickers congratulating me or any other child. There were few photos of me. As I said, I’m the baby of my family. My parents had apparently satisfied their need for photographs before I was born. My only chance of getting into a photo was if I happened to walk in front of the camera while my mother was taking a photo of a used car my parents had just purchased.


Winter worries

A visitor was amazed that I didn’t subscribe to Netflix. He accused me of living in the Dark Ages. I was sorry I’d let down the drawbridge that allowed him to cross the moat.

He’s a guy who has no problem watching movies on his cellphone. He is attracted to small, shiny, mental objects. We talked about the weather. We had to talk about it. We live where there is weather. The winter had been gentle, almost saintly. He worried aloud, “We’ll pay for the nice weather.”

“I remember when we used to have winter,” said my neighbor Crandall, with a cackle showing no evidence of worry about angering the winter gods.

A good number of folks from my neck of the woods miss winter from a distance. They aren’t where they are from. They winter in Texas, Florida, Arizona or California. So many snowbirds left this season that winter decided to take the year off.

We’ve had a winter to regale others with chilling stories. You know the kind. “The flames in the fireplace froze, but I didn’t know it. I was at the top of the windmill, trying to shovel snow off the roof of the barn. It was difficult because icicles were hanging from my eyelids.”

Winter is like all other seasons. We should be pleased with what we get.


The café chronicles

It was one of those eateries that offered two choices of salad dressing — ranch or none. There were four calendars on the wall. That’s typically a good sign.

William Least Heat-Moon, in his book Blue Highways, wrote of an infallible way to find honest food at just prices based upon the number of calendars on a café wall. He calculated that a four-calendar café was only one away from topping the scale. This one was a place to go to feel slothful.

People waited on me and it had linoleum floors. There was a dusty TV near the kitchen. A customer seated at the counter, with enough food in front of him that he would have to take vacation time to finish the meal, shouted warnings to the politicians appearing on the screen. He didn’t realize that the people on TV couldn’t hear him.


It was morning either way

I was speaking at gatherings in Gulf Shores, Ala. I went birding each morning while I was there. The white sand, warm weather and birds made for delightful walks.

One dawn, I walked by a table situated outside a large hotel and encountered a man enjoying an adult beverage. I hoped it was his first of the day. He asked me what I was doing. I told him that I was looking at birds. He grimaced and said, “Awfully early in the morning for that kind of thing, isn’t it?”


A sign of the times

On the door of a small town business, I saw this. “Back in 15 minutes. I’ve already been gone 10.”


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