I deal with the snow and cold pretty well. The strongest evidence boosting that claim is that I don't think I'm consciously dealing with it at all. Winter is snowy and cold, and even though this winter has been snowier and colder than most, we choose to live here and we know what we're in for over several months every year.
But I know others don't cope as well with all the snow and cold and the lack of natural light. My wife, for one, is the sun goddess herself. When she gazed out the living room window the other day, over a snow drift blocking half her view on a March morning that was 15 below zero, for a moment I actually thought she was going to start crying. She was in a bad state and I tried to lift her up by saying something semi-profound about the inevitability of spring’s pending arrival.
She wheeled around, fixing a glare of despair on me, and said, "How can this not bother you!"
I guess I don't have an articulate answer to that. I mean, sure, I have some little behavior quirks that have manifested themselves of late, but I’m OK...really, I am.
Or, is this winter finally getting to me, too? You be the judge:
• I keep my cell phone on my bedside table every night while I sleep. I do this for two reasons. One, I work in the news business, and news can happen at any time of the day or night, so I don't want to miss something big because I can’t be reached. Two, often we're in bed before our youngest son gets home from wherever he might be, and his older brother is in college hours away. If either kid is ever involved in a situation that requires me being notified well into the night, obviously I want my phone nearby.
But lately, the strangest thing has been happening every now and then. At various times during the night, as I’ve been asleep and most likely dreaming, I’ve been awoken by the distant sound of my phone’s text alert sound. Jolted, I try to gather my thoughts in rapid fashion and figure out what's going on. Then I rapidly lurch toward my phone to see who's trying to reach me. And every time, nothing. No one has texted me.
Perhaps most unsettling of all, my phone is always set to...vibrate!
• As I looked out the living room window into the backyard during last Saturday's snowpocalypse, I lightly scratched the fingers on my right hand on the glass pane, turned around until I caught my wife's attention across the room, and uttered, "I think I'll start writing my book."
• I was watching a hockey game in the Minnesota State High School League's 2019 boys' state tournament on TV last week, and one of the announcers insisted on calling the players' hockey sticks "twigs." It's a reference that goes way back to the time when hockey sticks were made of wood. If a player's stick broke, the announcer would say something like, "He needs a new twig."
I'm always incredibly merciless when it comes to nitpicking sports announcers on TV, but the way the guy insisted on incessantly using the twig reference blew a fuse in me. I looked at my wife and in calm fashion reminded her, even though she didn't need a reminder because she's been a hockey mom for many years, that the "twigs" the players were using cost around $300 and don't have a single wood molecule in them.
"It's going to be OK," she said.
Her soothing words didn't register with me. "It's not a twig!" I replied. "It's a carbon-fiber miracle of modern sports engineering!'
• I am feeling an urge that is perhaps stronger that at any point in my life, except for maybe when I was in my early elementary years, to wear the same clothes, day after day. Right down to my socks and underwear. Don't worry, I'm to this point eventually finding the motivation to keep changing things up, but with each passing morning finding something to wear seems like such a needless slog.
• I'm not going to lie: Whenever I'm filling my backyard bird feeders, if there are birds in close proximity to me, as there often is, I chat with them a bit. Mostly I just offer pleasant greetings and ask if they're hungry. It's not like we discuss the 2020 election. But, still, I sometimes wonder what my neighbors might think if they look out their window and see my mouth moving when it's obvious no other humans are near me.
But now I'm filling feeders while standing on snow drifts so tall I actually have to reach down to unhook them, not up. This is the case whether they’re hanging in trees or from the soffit of our house. So the other day, not only did I offer greetings to some pine siskins, I enjoyed a few sunflower seeds with them. News flash: Sunflowers prepared and packaged for human consumption taste better.
• I've become slightly obsessed of late with mud flaps on vehicles because of all the snow and slush everywhere. You don't have to drive very far before snow, slush and ice starts building up on your mud flaps and in your wheel-wells, something I have become ultra-aware of. I'm constantly giving the mud flaps on my pickup a slight kick so the material falls off and onto the ground, long before any of the snow and slush starts to flirt with contacting my tires.
But other motorists, no so much, and when I see their caked mud flaps and sometimes their entire wheel-well full of snow, slush and ice, to the point that it's rubbing on their tires, I get a little twitchy and sweaty. Can’t they hear that friction-inspired sound of rubber scraping on semi-frozen earthen materials? Don’t they care?
So whaddya think? Am I hanging in there? Am I going to be OK? On second thought, don’t answer that.