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Winter

11/25/2013 @ 7:27am

Single digits this morning, last night the tractor wouldn’t start, and the pup stole one of my gloves.

Welcome to winter.

Oh, yeah, and we ran out of propane, because I forgot to check the tank. We usually only fill the propane tank once a year, but the wood burner malfunctioned while I was on the road, and we went through a few months' worth pretty fast. After the kitchen stove stopped working, we called our supplier and were told there would be a $55 charge to fill on a weekend. I was way too cheap for that, plus the wood burner had been fixed, so I spent a couple days cutting wood. The only downside to running out of propane is the need to live on pizza and food that can be cooked in the microwave until the truck gets around to filling the tank.

Actually, I know more than a few people who already live on pizza and whatever comes out of the microwave, but it was a change for us.

I really shouldn’t complain. It’s nearly December and I haven’t shoveled snow at all this year. There have been a few years I’ve hooked onto the snowblower around Halloween and kept it busy all winter. That’s not good – winters like that are the reason you see campers heading for Arizona about a week after Labor Day. Any year when you unhook from the mower and hook up to the snowblower without even shutting the tractor off is a bad year.

We’ve missed that so far, which is the best you can say about winter in Minnesota.

People make fun of folks who live in cold places - places like Minnesota, Canada, and Scandinavia. The story is that we’re boring.  Maybe so, but you have to understand that it can be difficult to focus on living a fascinating life when you need to memorize where you keep the jumper cables, and your glasses frost over every time you leave the house.

Now, there’s no end to things I haven’t done. I haven’t graduated from Harvard, gone through Marine Corps boot camp, or piloted a jet through a hurricane.

On the other hand, I did run a livestock farm on the northern prairies for several decades and came out the other side, with my knees intact and just one finger that has been frozen badly enough to act up when the cold weather hits.

People who live in gentler places have no idea of what a stark, malevolent, howling presence winter on the prairie can be. I’ve often said that there is something kind of cool about living in a place where you can die just from going outside, but I do have to admit there are times when I’d be willing to entertain the notion of living in a place where hunkering down wasn’t an essential life skill.

Oh, well. I have two new batteries in the tractor; new shear bolts in the snowblower, and a massive pile of firewood. On Monday, the propane tank should be topped off, and I can settle down to a few months of scraping frost and mocking the flocks of wild geese, retired school teachers, and mechanics who rode the hard north wind to a kinder climate.

And I have hopes that the dog will bring my glove back.

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