Winter in Minn. isn’t bothered by complaints

Published 7:43 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

In the beginning, the land was covered with ice and snow. It was called Minnesota.

I hope you have stopped licking metal objects outdoors. They never talk about that during the weather reports where they state the obvious and speculate about all else. They cover a great deal in those reports. If I hadn’t noticed the 10-foot snowdrift in my driveway, I could turn on the TV and learn about it on The Weather Channel.

I was late getting home. I’d been at the beach building an igloo and had learned again that when my car is covered with snow and I roll down the window, the snow falls into the car. I’ve made a note to myself.

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It was the white slide of the season.

The Queen B, my lovely bride, had held dinner for me.

“What took you so long?” she asked in a wifely manner.

“It was so slippery that it took me forever to walk from the igloo to my car. It was so icy that for every step I took forward, I slipped back two.”

“Then how did you ever get to the car?” she questioned.

“I finally gave up and tried to walk back to the igloo.”

It is common for us to suffer from winter amnesia. We forget that we have winter every year. Then Minnesota hits us in the face. I wake up covered with snow while lying in my hammock. It’s once again the duck season. A time to duck snowballs. Winter is not a date on the calendar. It arrives when it is good and ready. Winter is that time when if bad weather is possible, it is likely. Bad weather arrives like that weird uncle who makes Thanksgiving less thankful.

I had been itching for winter. It was mostly mosquito bites. I froze some of the summer’s heat and intend to use it in January. I knew it was winter because the cheese in the refrigerator was growing fur and I had worn out a snow shovel getting the car out of the garage. I had become Edward Shovelhands in order to escape from a blizzard-induced cabin fever. We received an estimated 16 feet of snow (no two snowflakes were identical) and we didn’t even use coupons. What Mother Nature didn’t cover with snow, the snowplow driver did. Not long ago, it got down to 10 degrees below zero — wicked cold. Then, wouldn’t you know it, my air conditioner quit working. My ice cream cone stopped melting. It was so cold I brought the snowman indoors. My neighbor Crandall had begun walking like a zombie and was letting his eyebrows grow for warmth.

Someone asked what an average Minnesota winter is like. I can’t answer that question, as there has been no average winter during my lifetime. I remember winters of my youth. Winters that keep us stocked with enough tales to bore our kids for a lifetime. We didn’t have money enough for good weather. I didn’t walk uphill both ways to school through 6 feet of snow. That was for the lucky kids. I walked uphill both ways to school with barbed wire on my feet through 8 feet of snow. The winters were cold enough that Lutherans hugged without fear of being led into temptation. We had global warming when I was a boy. We called it “nice weather.” Minnesotans are ambitious. That’s because the lazy ones freeze to death.

Winter brings us together for warmth. One chilly evening, my wife and I snuggled together on the sofa watching a bad movie on TV. During a commercial, I reached over and gave her hand a gentle squeeze.

“That’s sweet,” she said.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I thought her hand was the remote. Winter can be cruel.

It is amazing how quickly it goes from “What a beautiful snowfall” to “It’s snowing again!” We say, “Winter so soon?” when we should be saying, “Winter at last.”

I visited with a former teammate, Scott Christensen, while I rang the bells for the Salvation Army. The conversation turned to the weather. Conversations have to turn to the weather. It’s a state law. Bob Dylan sang, “The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.” That meant the answer was snow. A blizzard was arriving when Scott said something insightful, “If we didn’t like it here, we would have moved.”

Scott nailed it. It doesn’t do any good to complain about the weather. The weather isn’t bothered by criticism and it doesn’t make us any warmer.

When winter arrives and brings its weather with it, we put on our game faces and endure.

We do so because we know it could be worse.

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