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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Snow and cold preferable to bone-dry air

  • I don't want anything clinging to me, and my 'heavy breathing' is a problem, too.
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  • Whenever the conversation topic turns to winter around these parts – which is quite often, considering the parts in which we live – I can often be heard saying something like, "As long as it's going to be cold outside, we might as well have some snow."
        Phrases similar to that one have been uttered by people numbering far beyond yours truly over the past couple winters, as a lack of moisture and resulting drought have lots of people, even snow-haters, longing for some significant moisture, no matter what form it takes. My dad's in a major panic, and for good reason; if we don't get some significant snow during the winter that remains or get some major spring rains that continue into the summer, it's not out of the question to think that a person of reasonable height might just be able to walk all the way across Maple Bay, where my parents live. It's already a safe bet that, after we're forced to construct one and maybe even two more 10-foot sections of dock so we’re able to get the boat and jet ski off their lifts next summer, we will have a dock that's Guinness-worthy. The book of records, not the delightful adult beverage. Or maybe it'll end up being both. After all, with the addition of last year’s 10-foot section, we’re flirting with 400 feet.
        Funny...all this talk of water in the dead of winter, the one time of the year that I typically find myself obsessed not with snow or frigid temperatures but with the dry air that we can always count on accompanying the arrival of winter in the great white north.
        Maybe I’m more charged up than ever – get it...charged? – on the topic this year because of the casual, around-the-house "pajama" pants my wife bought me a while back. I think I've tried to wear them three times, and each time I've ventured back to the bedroom to rip them off and put on something else within a half-hour. I simply can't handle how they cling to my legs as they’re overwhelmed by static electricity. If I take them off in the dark, it's like a Fourth of July fireworks show. And all the little spark shockers make noise, too. If Independence Day was observed in the dead of winter, Generous Jerry would probably be far less accommodating.
        Or maybe it's what the dry air does to my sleep patterns. Or, more accurately, my wife's sleep patterns. It's my snoring, you see. My gracious wife is so kind she calls it my "heavy breathing," but I get it. When the air is so dry that my nostrils are collapsing on each other with every breath and my mouth subsequently drops open when I drift off to sleep, noisy emanations are inevitably going to commence within a minute or so.
    Page 2 of 2 -     We have a household humidifier attached to our furnace, but it's literally a joke to possess one of those if the place you call home experiences winter almost half the year. It's off all spring, summer and fall because our house's indoor humidity is agreeable. If you don't want condensation all over your windows during the winter, when it gets really cold you pretty much have to turn off.
        I checked the “wireless indoor/outdoor weather station” on our living room wall the other day, after I’d pet one of the cats and set off a human/feline blitzkrieg and the indoor humidity was 16 percent. I proceeded to disintegrate into a dusty pile of bone chunks.
        We had a humidifier in our bedroom during the winter in recent years, until the disgusting state of its filter had me convinced we were cutting years off our lives by simply breathing the air, and I tossed it.
        My wife came home with a filter-less model the other day, and it turns out that it shoots warm steam into the air. It even makes a soothing percolating sound that could probably send even the most extreme insomniac off to dreamland in mere minutes.
        The steam, the sound, the heat...it all has me simultaneously feeling slightly comforted yet more than somewhat freaked out. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the fact the device is more than just your typical humidifier makes me feel like I’m in a nursing home or something, or hospitalized. As I lay there, I keep waiting for that nurse from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” to storm in, tie me down, and inject me with a tranquilizer against my will so I’ll submit to my next electroshock treatment.
        But, apparently, I’ve only sawed logs – I mean, breathed heavily – a couple times since we filled it with water and plugged it in, at least not to the degree where my wife files a restraining order. That’s worth enduring an electroshock nightmare every now and then, I suppose.
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