Old Man Winter arrived in Wisconsin a few days ago. While we can’t always count on seeing large quantities of snow, we certainly know that we’ll get a prolonged trip to the deep freeze. As the new year rang in, we were down in the neighborhood of -5 degrees, with a brisk wind that created a wind chill of -25 degrees … or whatever. I mean really, when it gets that cold, does it really matter much anymore? You can throw on all your warmest gear and the minute you walk outside, you feel like you are wearing a t-shirt and shorts … brrrrrrrr. And for the week ahead, we are only expecting between 10 and 20 degrees … that is all folks!
This doesn’t mean to say that I dislike winter. However, I can’t say I really like winter either. I have a healthy respect for winter, honed over the years from early childhood. I think of winter as an endurance test. It is a reminder of all the things we should appreciate throughout the rest of the year. It is necessary to freeze, blanket and smother everything for months in preparation of the spectacular spring that will inevitably come. And to all you warm weather dwellers, I must say that you simply cannot appropriately appreciate the first 40+ degree day, when the sun is shining, and the birds are signing, unless you have survived six or eight weeks of the Old Man. Even the iron man of all iron men, he-who-shall-remain-nameless, that famous QB #4, had to stick his frozen tail between his legs (actually, more like tuck his frozen hands in his armpits) and go look for someplace warm to play. That’s alright old #4, I can’t hardly blame you … my hands go numb inside gloves after ten minutes of shoveling. I couldn’t hold a football out there either.
The young are certainly more able to endure the winter. In my youth, I would insist on staying out until my hands were so frozen that I could hardly grip the doorknob to get back in the house. The tepid water my mother would run over my hands to thaw them would burn like hell as the blood began to flow again. My earlobes got frostbit so bad one time they swelled and looked like large grapes hanging off my ears. At that age, winter was a playground full of endless forts, slides and snowball fights. And while I haven’t built a snow fort for many years, a snow fall doesn’t pass without me throwing a few snowballs for the dog, or more likely at the nearest stop sign. There is still fun to be had.
And as for the brain numbing, car killing, digital display paralyzing, window frosting cold delivered this week … bring it Old Man, bring it. We can take it. And when early March brings that long-awaited whiff of spring, we’ll all be happier and more appreciative because of it.