Employee of the Year – Winter

Winter’s been clockin’ some serious overtime lately filling in for that lazy, good-for-nothing, slacker of a season Spring. So instead of dreaming of BBQs and baseball we get to shovel and scrape windows for a while longer. I have to give the Old Man some credit though – I mean it really looks like December out there. Parking lots with piles of snow and ice. He’s doing a real bang-up job.

Hey Spring, you should maybe take some lessons from the ‘Ice Man’ – in fact, you might want to start worrying about keeping your job. Really, how many times can you call in sick because you’re feeling a little under the weather and expect to call yourself a season? Face it, Mother Nature should fire you for being this late!

Dog Days

Stay hydrated and load up on sunscreen because I think Summer has decided to take his pit bull for a walk. Here I was thinking we’d make it the entire season without this blistering heat. I don’t know why I should be surprised. In this state the temperature extremes will typically guarantee that you stay indoors at least twice every six months. All in all I’d have to say this is one of the mildest summers we’ve had in years but between the neighbor’s dog and Mr. Sun, my lawn is pretty much toast when August hits.

Potholes

The ice and snow really does a number on our streets. My brother is a bridge engineer with the state so he has a fair amount of experience with road design and maintenance. On a recent trip to Arizona, he couldn’t get over how immaculate the streets looked. Their condition made them appear that they were all freshly paved when in fact they were years old. The lack of extreme temperature and weather conditions makes road repair not only easier to do but less frequent.

Meanwhile, there are several streets in our area that need some serious attention… and soon. When you have to drive on a main thoroughfare like you’re navigating a minefield it may be time to get the tar and gravel crews out. Some of those potholes are more like foxholes. The inconvenience of road crews tearing up our streets during the spring and summer isn’t exactly pleasant but considering how long our winters are we really can’t be that ungrateful.

Waterproof

The spring thaw is underway and things are getting wet. The milder temps have kept the kids busy outside playing in the soggy snow. It’s weird to think that just a few weeks ago you couldn’t get them outside if you paid them. The battle now is trying to keep them supplied with dry caps, gloves and coats. If an overnight stay in front of the heat registers won’t get their saturated stuff dry by morning we’ll throw it all in the clothes dryer. The one item that’s most difficult to keep dry are their shoes and boots.

There’s nothing worse than soggy, wet socks when you’re outside playing. Especially when you feel them sliding off your feet. The breaking point has to be when your socks reach the balls of your feet – it’s the point of no return. The only way to keep from losing them all together is to surrender by going inside to do what your toes were unable to – pull them back up.

Mom had an ingenious way of keeping our feet dry when our boots failed to do the job; bread bags. It certainly wasn’t the most dignified solution but it seemed to work. When it was time to change from boots to shoes at school, the only comfort that saved us from embarrassment was the fact that nearly all of our classmates were subjected to the same ‘brilliant’ solution. No sir, there certainly never seemed to be a shortage of bread bags in our home. I wonder if we could get our boys to try it.

Come Back in Five Months!

I couldn’t help but notice the Schwan’s catalog this morning on the kitchen table. My wife flatly stated that he was coming tomorrow and began leafing through it. She wasn’t frantic, but I still detected a slight tone of purchase obligation; like we owed the Schwan’s man some business because we asked to be on his route. I realize that Schwan’s sells more than frozen treats, but part of me doesn’t exactly think “let’s get Schwan’s” when it’s -35˚ outside (the goods are probably warmer in the truck).

Getting something from Schwan’s was a premium purchase that happened occasionally when we were kids. In fact, rather than deal with the guilt of turning down the Schwan’s man, we chose to hide behind the couch when he drove by. It’s like the Schwan’s man was some kind of professional beggar. A beggar who forewarned of his panhandling with a slick full-color brochure and handy bright yellow calendar sticker announcing his visits.

Not much has changed, though this routine is a little too fresh to effectively teach the kids how to make it look like no one’s home. Hey, the stuff’s expensive and we live only blocks from a grocery store, so if we did buy something it would only be to help the poor guy having to drive around in this cold, going door-to-door peddling the Schwan’s processed food line. I’d just as soon see him when it warms up a little, but if I come home tomorrow to ice cream drum sticks or orange push-ups I won’t complain.

Winter Blues

I knew it would happen eventually. The kids are officially bored with winter. It’s funny how just six months ago they were saying how much they were looking forward to the snow and cooler weather. To some degree their discontentment with the seasons is true for all of us, but as parents we don’t dare let on that we too are fed up with winter. Instead we encourage them to go outside and play in the ‘beautiful’ subzero playground that is our yard (because it’s what they begged for all summer long). They usually last a half hour before coming inside complaining that the snow is too icy to make anything with. I fear that it won’t be long before there is an outbreak of the severely contagious spring fever in the Thorenson household. Oh yippee.

Rodent Weatherman

Button up! It looks like we have six more weeks of winter to endure. The Groundhog’s Day tradition is one of the most interesting and ridiculous ceremonies in American history. I’ve always felt that the conditions leading to the predictions defied logic. In my mind if the groundhog sees his shadow that would mean that there is plenty of sunlight outside — a condition more typical of spring-like weather. Instead it means we’re getting six more weeks of winter. And that six week length of time ain’t exactly something you can bank on either. It certainly isn’t adequate for North Dakota. I mean, look at last year — we had a blizzard a whole eight weeks after Punxsutawney Phil made his prediction. But then, how accurate can a weatherman who forecasts the weather once a year actually be?

Forecasting

After the weather forecasts of last week, I fully expected to be buried in feet of snow today (I guess it could still blow in). They say weather is one of the most difficult things to predict accurately beyond a couple days so you have to give the weatherman some leeway when it comes to the seven-day forecast. It’s funny how much guff they get from us for “lying” about the weather. We should all be thankful for the times they forecast gloom and doom when actually we have a half decent day.

Seriously?!

I don’t know about the rest of you, but the threat of global warming doesn’t seem real eminent right now! Even the Sunshine State is experiencing record cold with this Arctic Blast. Heck, the freezing cold temperatures were knocking iguanas out of trees. Don’t fret though, it appears much balmier weather is on the way. Tomorrow’s high is expected to reach a balmy 34˚ — that’s above zero, mind you. We may just have to crack a window or two!