As a kid, seeing the mailman stop at our box brought shivers of anticipation. Now it just brings shivers, and a certain amount of dread. I live northeast of Minneapolis, deep in Wisconsin’s north woods country where every seasonal change creates a beautiful wonderland. Even winter.
Today for instance, deep blue skies cradle a pale winter sun. Walking on the crisp snow produces a pleasant crunching sound that accompanies me whenever I’m outside. Which isn’t often. The snow sparkles and twinkles like so many fallen stars. The wind gently ruffles, then rattles, the branches overhead. And the high for the day is zero.
Believe me, that’s a heat wave. My frozen wonderland has experienced below zero highs for several days now. And I’m cold damn it. Even indoors. Even under the covers. I’ve run out of things to bake, and stuff to wash so I can run the dryer.
It’s not like I haven’t prepared for winter. In a land that often experiences its first frost in August, and blizzards in May, the fourth season is big business. Cities’ and towns’ yearly budgeted amount for snow and ice removal runs into the tens of thousands. Most vehicles running around are of the four-wheel or all-wheel drive types. Crates of ‘Heet’ decorate garages.
Here at my house we break out the flannel sheets, cover the deck furniture, and stock up on birdseed. And then the ‘rummage for outdoor gear event’ commences. Where are my gloves? Oh crap, that’s right-lost the right mitten when I dug for the already used kleenex hiding in my pocket. Had to remove my glove to do that, and the wind took it. Eventually all my essentials are inventoried: thin hat, bigger hat, scarf. Thin gloves, big gloves, woolen socks. Boots, coat, down vest. Aaand, ta da, snow pants.
Sadly, I need to wrap up in all that just to walk down the driveway and retrieve the mail. Maybe, maybe there won’t be much in the box. Maybe I can leave it ’till tomorrow…