Sunday, December 03, 2023

Ol' man winter has arrived at last

| January 15, 2020 1:37 PM

So, it’s finally here.

Yup, old man winter has arrived in time to quiet, at least temporarily, talk of global warming and climate change.

The dozen or more sparrows that have taken residence under the old recliner I keep on the porch (hey, it’s comfortable and still looks really good and is under a covered porch) have a place to go.

They hang out there, unlike most of their feathered counterparts who have fled south, largely because of the bird feeder hanging nearby that they ravage daily, along with blue jays and other winged creatures apparently too lazy to migrate.

I first became aware of their presence under the chair early the other morning when I sat down with a cup of coffee and they all flew at once past my legs and head on their way to a nearby bush.

Yes, another weird animal story involving this big replanted Montana guy. I’ve got the coffee stains on my favorite old sweatshirt to prove it.

I think they also like being under that big, padded chair because it’s no doubt warmer than wherever else they might go.

That chair has better insulation than the walls of the house I live in and they don’t have to pay winter heating bills.

However, in another demonstration of why we humans are the “superior” beings, I would not crap on the floor of a place someone was kind enough to let me occupy.

Another sure sign winter is here is Highway 135 between the junction of Highway 200 and St. Regis. I think that 20-mile stretch of road should be called Satan’s Boulevard during the winter.

Oh, it has beautiful scenery for sure. Hard to argue with snow covered mountains and the Clark Fork River for a backdrop. And winter traffic is definitely lighter than summer when I always seem to get caught behind the tourists out to “rough it” in the woods in their 400-foot long travel trailers that cannot be towed at more than 20 miles per hour.

But when you throw in snow and ice on top of the Leman’s style race course that is Highway 135, it can be really hard on the knuckles.

That’s where they get the phrase “white knuckle driving” from gripping the steering wheel so hard you need that fancy cannabis by-product pain cream to sooth the hands.

It doesn’t get you high, but maybe makes you wish you were so you could just pull over and laugh.

Another of winter’s pleasures, shoveling snow is really not that big a deal.

When I was a youngster my brother and I made big money every morning, $2 a sidewalk, removing the white stuff from in front of neighborhood houses. I’m sure that fee has gone up.

The real bummer about winter, in my mind, is below zero temperatures. I had a bunch of pipes freeze in a house I owned outside of Spokane during a stretch of “artic vortex” weather.

That’s another term designed by sadistic weather specialist to enhance your misery index.

Kinda like the “wind chill factor.”

Broken pipes under the house and in the walls, combined with 11 hours of emergency plumber service took care of summer vacation plans budget-wise.

Now there are some folks out there who are not exactly Einsteins. But you’d have to be pretty lame not to know that wind with cold is colder. Wind with damn near everything is somehow altered and usually not to the good.

A classic example would be all the “wind” coming from the so-called impeachment hearings. What good did that do? But don’t get me started.

I would imagine by now there must have been some form of government study to determine if cold makes the brain act differently.

If so, however much money spent on that study could have been given to me.

I would have said, “yeah, it does,” and used the rest to fund my adult beverage purchases at the VFW for the rest of my life.

In the neighborhood I grew up in, there actually were a few kids who wondered if their tongue would indeed stick to a cold metal light pole. It does. Nuff said about that and thanks dad for having a glass of slightly warm water handy.

So off we go into another season of slipping, sliding, shoveling and shivering. But there are some really big positives.

First, it’s reassuring to know there are still people in this day and age who are willing to climb into big trucks filled with sand and de-icer at really early morning hours and clean the snow off the roads to the best of their ability.

And, all that white stuff up high means water for everyone during the summer.

Thank you Lord, for having that all figured out.

I promise I will quit griping about the snow and ice….at least until next year.

Chuck “Kvelve” Bandel is a reporter for the Mineral Independent and Clark Fork Valley Press. You can look for his “Kvelve’s Comments” column weekly.

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