Looking like Christmas
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmasâ€¦
What's up with that?
I'm a simple man. I don't ask for much. Every year I make one weather request.
I don't want snow until Christmas Eve, and then I want just about a half inch. I'd prefer that the Christmas snow fall as big flakes, filtering gently past the streetlights as we come home from the Christmas Eve service. That's all the snow I need, and I make that perfectly clear every year.
I don't care if it gets cold -- I know a bunch of guys who like to ice fish and some of them have been known to slip a few walleye fillets our way, so I don't have a problem with cold weather.
But snow is a different story.
People ask, "But what about the snowmobilers?"
I say, "I don't care."
I don't have anything against snowmobilers, even if I did spend about a decade tripping over a broken down snowmobile that somehow ended up in the middle of my sidewalk from December until May. I don't blame all snowmobilers for that, only a couple. It just seems to me that since I ask for so little, it's only fair that I not have to shovel snow until January.
I'm sure there's a possibility for good snow memories -- schussing down the slopes at Aspen, cross country skiing through the north woods in Vermont, building a snowman under a December moon -- all fine memories.
The only problem is that none of them are mine. My first snow memory was a couple years after we started farming and were building our first hog house. An early blizzard blew in and when the storm was over, the foundation was gone. It hadn't blown away, you understand, it was just buried under 7 feet of snow. I found it, in a day or so.
That same winter another snowstorm threatened to strand half a dozen carpenters at our place. That seemed like a bad thing, so I went out to fire up our loader tractor -- a 1955 Minneapolis Moline Z. It had a 6-volt battery that, on a warm day, would spin the engine over about three times before it died of exhaustion. The way I usually started it was to push the starter button, just because I'm an optimist, and then pull the crank out of its holder and give the engine a spin until it caught.
Now, for those of you who've never started an engine with a crank, here's how it goes. You slowly turn the engine until you feel it reach the top of the compression stroke, then you fold your fingers out of the way and give a sharp pull upward. Now, when you pull, you want to make sure your feet don't slip on the ice, because if the engine does catch, the crank can go around a lot faster than it did when you pulled it and end up whacking you in the middle of your forehead. I discovered this flawed starting technique when I found myself on my knees staring at a patch of white snow that was rapidly being obscured by thick red drops.
That was 30 years ago, and I've had plenty of similar snow memories since then. I don't need any more.
So knock it off with the snow already. A half inch, on Christmas Eve, but not until midnight.