Editor’s note: Mark has been ill with strep throat – or so he says. We dug up this column from exactly one year ago (even though we don’t know how a sore throat could keep a person from typing), because it seems appropriate to this April, too. Mark’s original work will be back a week from now (if he wants to remain employed), and we’re guessing it’ll be a column about being sick.
Mother Nature is a tease.
She pops out for a day, shows a little leg, smiles demurely, and disappears again, leaving her anxious suitors to suffer through a cold, wet weekend. It’s hardly any wonder, of course, that the symbol of weather should run hot and cold, but sheesh – enough is enough.
The stupid little groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter – something that should make the more ardent card carrying PETA member go buy a rifle with a scope – but by my watch the six weeks are up. So come on, Mama Nature, give it up already. What is a groundhog, anyway? It’s a big rat. Set a trap, somebody.
(Editor’s note: This year the groundhog predicted an early spring. Stupid groundhog.)
It seems like, even more than usual, our weather has been in an up and down pattern that makes it look like a heartbeat on an EKG. It reminds me of telling the kids about the old days, when I had to walk to school barefoot, in a raging blizzard every morning that turned into a blistering heat wave by the afternoon. (Uphill both ways, naturally.) Lately they’ve been saying, “So is this what it was really like, dad? Why don’t you take those shoes off?”
I really should get around to admitting I only lived two blocks from school.
(Editor’s note: It was a block and a half.)
As a result of the bouncing weather, a lot of people say they would rather it just stay cold all the time. Don’t listen to them, Mother Nature. Their brains are frozen. Saying cold all the time instead of warm some of the time is like saying that, since you can’t eat 24 hours a day, you’d rather just starve. I don’t want to starve. Shove me full of burgers. To carry the comparison a bit further, I’d rather weigh 300 pounds alive than be the first member of my family to voluntarily starve to death.
(Editor’s note: The doctor says he’s at 202.)
Summer now goes by much more quickly than it used to, and winter – strange as recent winters have been – lasts much longer. Don’t believe me? When I was a kid, the average summer lasted eighteen months. Seriously. I would go out to play after breakfast, and wouldn’t come in again for three days, just in time for lunch. The summer when I turned nine lasted for six years. It’s a science-fictiony mystery, but there you go. We went to Kentucky for a two week vacation that lasted so long we had to cut down trees to get the car back on the road.
It never got hot. Kids could wake up in the hospital with two IV’s in their arms, and have no idea they were ever overheated. Then they’d go home and run back outside again. Sure, most of us didn’t notice the cold, either, but we sure noticed when we started getting feeling back into our limbs. It was like getting a power pinch from our least favorite aunt – all over.
(Editor’s note: This newspaper in no way condones or encourages nephew abuse.)
Even the bad things about summer are good. Bugs? Hate ‘em. But why do they come out during the spring? Because during winter they’re dead. Everything’s dead. It’s a dead season. Mother Nature is dead – the first lightning storm of the spring is like a giant defibrillator, starting her heart back up.
No lawn mowing during winter. Why? Grass is dead. No poison ivy during winter. Why? Dead. Snakes? Dead. No spiders during the winter. (Spiders are not bugs. Bugs are just bugs – spiders are evil.) Even spiders know dead when they see it, although many think it looks like the bottom of my shoe.
Hot and humid is unpleasant, I get that. I don’t like it either, but nobody ever slid into a snowbank after six inches of sunshine. No poor match girl ever froze to death while taking shelter under a shade tree during an Independence Day celebration.
What other bad things do we have during the summer? Tornadoes? Terrible things, they can be a mile wide and cause great damage. But blizzards have covered half the friggin’ country. Besides, no matter how strong it was, no meteorologist ever mentioned “tornado” in the same sentence as “wind chill”.
(Editor’s Note: The story of an alleged “snow tornado” during March, 1978 in northwest Indiana has never been confirmed.)
There’s just no comparison. Winter even smells dead – spring smells of fresh cut grass, and lilacs, and that earthy scent that comes with a warm summer rain. And yes, it also smells of hot asphalt, and dairy farms, and sweat, but that’s a small price to pay for driving down a country road with the window open and breathing deeply as you pass a cornfield.
Everything’s green, with those patches of other bright colors that are like finding a forgotten twenty dollar bill. Green is life. Winter has no color: It’s black and white and dead all over. I could also go for the cliché and mention the sounds – birds, frogs, insects, all more relaxing than the sound of sleet on windows, or furnaces kicking on. Finally, lest we forget, the feel of walking around in shorts and shirtsleeves, without the accompanying frostbite.
Warmth makes everything a little better. Sure, you can’t store your frozen goods on the back porch, but that’s a small price to pay for opening the window and breathing in real air.
So come on out, Mother Nature, don’t be a tease. And don’t bother bringing your winter coat.