Ready for spring
Okay, I'm ready for spring.
I realize that it's only the middle of November, but I've actually had all the winter I need.
I know a lot of snowmobilers, skiers, and folks who enjoy living in a winter wonderland will disagree with me.
I don't care.
I just drove home from a meeting in the middle of our first snowstorm. I stepped into the parking lot in a driving rainstorm. After I'd been on the road about five minutes, the rain turned to slush and then flakes. As they say, this wasn't my first rodeo, so I let out a deep sigh, slowed down, and put the truck into four wheel drive.
The traffic was brisk. Life would be a lot simpler if everyone north of the Mason-Dixon Line would stay home from November to March, but I guess thatâ€™d just be more trouble for the economy. Every time I met a truck, a spray of slush would hit me. Imagine someone dumping a 55 gallon drum of blended margaritas mixed with mud on your windshield. There'd be about three seconds of total blackout until the wipers cleaned enough sludge off the window so I could see again. I did the math -- at the speed I was going, every three seconds of blackout equaled 176 feet of driving while blind. I decided it wasn't dangerous as long as every other driver on the road drove safely and responsibly and I could depend on them to not do anything stupid.
I slowed down some more.
The problem with four wheel drive is that it helps you go faster in bad conditions, but it doesn't do anything to help you go slower. This concept is an important one to grasp. Whenever you see a massive SUV upside down in a ditch, it's a fairly safe bet the driver forgot that little equation. Every now and then, I turned off the four wheel drive in an effort to gauge how slippery it was, but after a while I stopped doing that, because I always disliked the answer I got. Throughout my driving career, I've occasionally done a 360 or 720 degree turn in the middle of a snowy road; it's actually not as much fun as it sounds. On a busy road it can be a little like being the ball in a pinball machine.
It kept getting darker as I drove, something that happens a lot in Minnesota this time of year -- we only have about two hours of daylight -- but this time it seemed to be happening abnormally fast. I dimmed my lights, put them back on bright, and cussed a few times, as I tried to find the right lighting to penetrate the curtain of swirling snowflakes. I'm in my mid-fifties and Iâ€™ve noticed that my night vision isnâ€™t quite what it used to be. I just thought this was one more example of my body going completely to pot. After I got home, I walked around the front of the truck and noticed three inches of frozen snow over the headlights. I had to use a spade to clean them off, but it actually made me feel a little better knowing that even though I'm living in an icy hell, at least I can see it clearly.
Oh well. The sun came out the next day. It was a hard, clear cold -- freezing the ground so the guys could get back to work harvesting corn. I pounded the front of my pickup with the edge of my hand -- a cold weather karate chop -- and the icy sheathing cracked into a dozen pieces and fell to the ground. I took a deep breath of winter air and listened to the sounds of a flock of wild geese. I decided things weren't so bad after all.