Al Batt: Say it ain’t snow —winter is technically here

Published 7:03 pm Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Tales from Exit 22, By Al Batt

It’s another beautiful 60°.


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It has become that time of the year when it always feels as if someone has left a door open. It’s the time of the year when cooler heads don’t prevail.

Winter began on Dec. 21.

“What?” you say. “What was the weather we’ve been having?”

Foolish mortal. It’s been a training session to prepare us for the real winter that’s coming. Welcome to planet winter. It’s when The Weather Channel gains viewers, and we hunker down and give the weather a D- grade. Winter comes in the fall and stays for the spring.

Sinclair Lewis wrote, “Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.” How true. We batten down the hatches in anticipation of winter’s snarl. We winterize all things that allow it. If your boots don’t weigh at least 10 pounds each, they are slippers. We embrace the inevitable by covering our bodies in lip balm. Survival is the mother of all outdoor sports.

Our world finds the cold balances the heat. On a cold day, we can freeze forever. Winter comes in large doses. If you don’t like winter, you should have been born elsewhere because we live in the frozen foods section of the country. We can taste the cold, yet we act as if it had never been so cold. Just remember, it’s better to have bad weather than no weather at all.

Winter isn’t always a congenial companion. Oh, it promised that it would be different this time. Right. I hope you don’t believe that. There is the first day of winter and there is the first annoying day of winter. One day, we talk of the beauty of our coldest season; the next day, a crack meteorologist announces, “Congratulations, you have been chosen to receive miserable weather. A glacier is advancing on the state.” Flake news abounds. When winter veers from the magical to the miserable, I try to talk about anything but the weather. That can make for some truncated discussions. We eventually give in and discuss past winters. Someone will fill every available ear with tales of shoveling 100 of the 40 inches of snow we’d received one year. The first liar doesn’t have a chance.

Blizzards are up to snow good. You can spot visitors. They are the ones yelling, “Everyone indoors!” as we shovel paths to our snowblowers.

Heavily bundled people move like smoke over the snow and ice. Winter teaches us to pay attention. We notice when the snowplow driver is snowed in. We drive roads, which have become mission impassable, playing that popular game called, “Dude! Where’s my lane?”

Earl Wilson said, “Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.”

We’re lucky. I’ll bet Hawaii would give anything for a winter like ours. Some of our people become dormant while others put mashed potatoes in their pockets for the warmth and don’t bat a frozen eyelash before leaving the scene of the crime and heading to Texas, Florida and Arizona. Once there, they won’t even venture outdoors if the wind is from the north. There they enjoy winter by eating iceberg lettuce and snow peas. The minute his furnace kicks in, a friend packs his bags and heads to Mesa. I stay here because I wear electric underwear. I travel only as far as its cord reaches.

Does winter ever dream of spring? On those boyhood days when even the weatherman was shivering and my room was the definition of cold, I employed an itchy blanket. It was old and warm, and it allowed me to pull the wool over my own eyes. Grandma used to comment, “This cold chills me to my bones.”

I responded with an “Ewww! Gross!” because I was a young knucklehead, not the older knucklehead that I am today. Now, a weather report threatening cold temperatures chills me to my bones.

For those of you who choose to remain here and gut it out, keep the snow out of your winter weary ears. We’ll wait for warm weather and then see who is still around. It’s important that you go outside on Feb. 20 at noon, raise your hands over your head and yell, “Hoodie Hoo!” for all the world to hear. This chases winter away and welcomes spring. Don’t expect immediate action on Hoodie Hoo Day, but when you winter here, it’s important to find reasons to be hopeful.

Take comfort in how much joy we find whenever the thermometer hits 32°.

Al Batt’s columns typically appear on Wednesdays and Saturdays but was moved to Thursday this week because of the Christmas holiday.