Al Batt: Beware the treachery of month named April

Published 7:58 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt


Colorful weather maps surrounded me.

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I didn’t know what the colors meant, but I knew they weren’t all good.

Sometimes the calendar loses its way. April is like fruitcake. It’s mostly a good thing, but it has some yucky stuff mixed in. April heard rumors that winter was over and reacted like a rabid rhinoceros in a china shop. There was ice, snow, sleet and wind. That should have been enough weather for one day, but it began to thunder. No one anywhere said, “Boy, it’s good to hear that thunder.”

It was a winter buffet that offered all the weather we could stand. Who could have guessed we’d get bad weather in Minnesota? Weather forecasting is the soil in which uncertainty grows. We hate it when our favorite weatherman is wrong. We hate it when he is right. Mother Nature says, ”Here’s your weather, work with it.”

Over 200 local power poles tipped over like a row of dominos under weather’s onslaught. I couldn’t keep my socks up.

There was plenty of something where there once was nothing and there was nothing where there had been something. The storm had been nasty enough that certain politicians took notes to enhance their nastiness skills.

It was a weather event best experienced in photos or videos. We can’t expect weather to give us a fair deal. The silver lining in the dark cloud was that it was nice to have something unpleasant happen that wasn’t my fault.

The power went on vacation. Trees toppled in the yard. One had been hit by lightning a few years ago. It’s not a lucky tree. We were without power for 47 hours. My wife was the official timekeeper. Those were a tough couple of days for the power hungry. For us, it was more like camping in a giant tent that required no pitching. We hunkered down.

There are two kinds of people: Those who think the world is made up of two kinds of people and those who don’t think the world is made up of two kinds of people. There are two kinds of rural folks: Those who own a generator and those who don’t own a generator. I have no generator. I may not have much, but I have enough without having a generator.

The mail took a couple of days off. No travel was advised. What about the motto of the United States Postal Sevice? “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” The USPS has no official motto. That phrase comes from a book written by Herodotus, a Greek historian, about the Persian Wars. During the wars between the Greeks and Persians (500-449 B.C.), the Persians operated a system of mounted couriers who served faithfully. Those words are chiseled over the entrance to the New York City Post Office because the architect enjoyed Greek literature.

The storm dragged on like the last two minutes of an NFL game. Even a good Minnesotan like me had to admit the weather could have been better. My father had moved from his ancestral home in tropical Iowa to the colder pastures of Minnesota. Some family members called it moving from Planet Earth to the Gopher State. They thought of Minnesota as Antarctica, only with less culture. Even a tall wall won’t keep the bad weather out of the state. We complain about the weather, but it does no good. As the late Howard Cosell, a bombastic sports commentator, said, “There will always be critics. The dogs bark, but the caravan rolls on.”

Mr. Rogers wrote, “There was something else my mother did that I’ve always remembered: ‘Always look for the helpers,’ she’d tell me. ‘There’s always someone who is trying to help.’” 

Utility workers showed up in great numbers. These helpers scrambled about righting and replacing poles like ants repairing an anthill demolished by a downpour. I do good work. I just don’t do much of it. Those workers did much good work.

Winter acts up so we won’t miss it when it’s gone. It makes a French exit or an Irish goodbye — terms referring to leaving without saying proper farewells. Like a reformed kleptomaniac who couldn’t take it anymore, winter leaves. It goes to a secret, secluded spot where it rests up and plans its next show.

My father maintained that weather evens out. I don’t doubt that.

The weather cleared. The sun came out. The earth warmed. The power returned. Lights, water, action!

The crowd went wild.

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Saturday.