Shouldn't Winter Be a Good Time To Write?

Updated: Mar 19, 2019




I'm working the late shift at my job the next two days, so I don't start work until noon. Good time to get some writing done, eh? After all, it's winter time. Winter is a great time to do things inside. Should be a great day to grab a cup of hot cocoa, look out the window at all the pretty snow, stretch out the ol' fingers and start typing. Right?


Not so fast.


I just spent an hour trying to clean snow off my roof with a tiny shovel on the end of a long, skinny, metal pole. Just one of the many time-consuming tasks a person must perform when living in the tundra.


I'll be honest with you ... we were breezing right through winter until about the last week of January. Something called a "polar vortex" sent temperatures in the region plummeting. It got so cold that penguins were spotted at REI trying to buy thermal socks to fit their webbed feet.


Then came the snow. We set a record for snowfall in the month of February. As you can see from the photo (taken in my back yard) the snow has really piled up. If you look at the snow pile in the background, you will see a mound that is taller than me.


There are so many things to hate about winter, but I think what I hate most is how long everything takes. I'm not talking about the length of the season itself — that is a subject for another day. I can expound on it later. Maybe this summer, when I'm not busy cleaning snow from my car, or my sidewalk, or my roof, or my driveway; or walking around the neighborhood with a shovelful of snow, trying to find somewhere to put it.


Yes, as much as I hate shoveling snow, or driving in the snow, or temperatures so low your eyeballs freeze, the top of my list of reasons to hate Old Man Winter has to be all the time that is stolen from you; time you will never get back. I would say you could get some of it back in the summer, but we've already alluded to the fact that summer only lasts about a week and a half around these parts.


Have you ever seen Minnesotans in early spring, the first time the temperature climbs above the point where water freezes? They're wearing shorts and t-shirts. Some people think they're crazy, or maybe their bodies are acclimated to the cold, so 32º Fahrenheit actually seems warm to them. Both good theories, but wrong. The truth is they are just tired of putting on clothes.


Have you ever gotten home from the store, put everything away, sat down on the couch, and just as you get the remote positioned just right in your hand, your wife informs you that you forgot to pick up the very thing you were sent to the store to get?


If this happens in July or August, no problem. Just pop on a pair of shoes, grab your keys and off you go. Cub Foods is only a five-minute drive, tops. You've already seen that episode of Big Bang Theory a million times anyway; you'll be back before the next episode begins. If this happens in January or February, however, it's another story altogether:


Let's start with the socks. Since you've already removed them, they're sweaty. You already put them in with the dirty clothes. And let's be honest, only college students and bachelors are allowed to go back into the clothes hamper. Responsible adults need to go upstairs to find a fresh pair. After putting on your socks, sweatshirt, coat, hat and gloves, you try to pick up your keys. You then remove one of your gloves so you can pick up the keys. Your four-to-five-minute drive takes twelve minutes because even at 7pm there are still a few people on the road. And since there is snow on the road, they are traveling at sixteen miles per hour. When you arrive at Cub, you try to find a spot. Since everyone now requires two parking spaces per vehicle and roughly one-third of the lot is being occupied by a gigantic snow pile left by a season of snow-plowing, you end up parking on the other side of the lot.


After the four-minute walk across the parking lot, you walk to the back of the store, grab a carton of unsweetened almond milk and bring it back to the checkout. You choose the self-checkout for obvious reasons. But three of the six self-checkout registers are out of order, because apparently it's impossible to get cash register service people out in this weather to fix the machines. You patiently wait while everyone ahead of you scan all their canned goods, preparing for the upcoming snowmageddon.


After paying for your milk, you repeat your four-minute walk back to your car, taking notice of all the now-vacated spots along the way. You navigate your body into your car, butt-first so you can tap the snow off your shoes. Only a fourteen-second operation, but if you extrapolate it out over the seven-month-long winter, it adds up to roughly four-and-a-half hours of tapping snow off your shoes per season. I figure at this point in my life I have spent approximately nine days tapping snow off my shoes.


The drive home goes much smoother, only about eight minutes. And after twelve short minutes of removing your winter attire, layer-by-layer, you put the milk in the fridge and head for the couch where your wife and dog are snuggled in. You hear the theme music for "Friends."


"Friends?" you exclaim. "It's ten o'clock already? How did it get to be ten o'clock already?"


If I don't write much in the summertime, I blame my procrastination — a skill at which I am quite adept. In the winter, however, I put all the blame squarely on the shoulders of Old Man Winter. By the way ... I would have finished this little diatribe sooner, but I had to take a break to Google "ice dam removal."


Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.




© 2018 John Ethier, all rights reserved.

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