I rode my motorcycle to work today. I know for most of you, that’s not a big deal. But for those of us who ride, it is. And I couldn’t have picked a better day. The roads are dry, the sun is shining, and it was a balmy 35 degrees. Let me say that again – 35 degrees. Fahrenheit. For those of you who can’t quickly convert metric numbers, it’s a couple of degrees above zero. Fahrenheit or Celsius, at that point it doesn’t matter.
First, let’s get one thing out in the open. I am not the kind of person who spends all winter complaining about the weather. “Complain” doesn’t even scratch the surface. The last time I looked outside and saw snow falling, my granddaughter learned a new word and I got a bar of soap in the mouth.
And while it’s a little warmer today than it’s been, it still isn’t the ideal day for riding. I spent ten minutes bundling up for a seventeen-minute ride, and I was still frozen when I got there. But I had an appointment to get a new back tire installed, and I didn’t want to miss it. Because once the weather breaks for good, every shop in the state will have a waiting list and all the good tires will be taken. Spring is almost here, and I want to be ready.
Kids don’t seem to mind winter. My grandson loves it. Snow is a big deal to him. He can eat snow, throw snow, roll snow, and shovel snow. He can make a snowman, a snow angel, a snow fort, or a snow tunnel. He moves my snow, and makes money moving other people’s snow. The kid next door was stealing our snow and putting it in his own yard. So I sent my grandson over to play with him. After all, it was our snow.
And to be honest, fresh snowfall is a beautiful thing. It truly is. As long as you don’t have to drive in it. Or walk in it. Or see it in your own yard. But it looks beautiful on postcards. Several years ago I was driving through Montana past a mountain forest of huge Douglas Fir with their branches covered in snow. It was magnificent.
The next morning I walked out of the hotel and started looking for my car. It wasn’t so magnificent any more. They all looked the same because they were all covered in six inches of snow. I cleaned off four cars before I found my own. Now I know why people put those stupid little balls on their antenna.
But as I said, some people love winter. And not just kids. I did a weekend of shows in Traverse City, Michigan a few years ago. When I got to town, the snow was two feet deep. And we sold out all four shows. It was the only time in my life I’ve gone to a bar and seen snowmobiles parked outside. The parking lot choreography after the show was funnier than the show itself.
But those people wouldn’t have it any other way. And maybe they’re onto something. Because unlike people in the deep south, they don’t mind summer either. In the summer they put the boat in the water and have family picnics. And in the winter they break out the skis and snowmobiles. They enjoy life all year long.
I moved to Ohio from south Florida a little over 21 years ago. I’ll never forget that first year. Everybody I met asked the same question. Why? What would make a person want to leave that year-round sunshine and come to a state where it’s too cold to go outside three months out of the year?
I still remember my answer – it comes back to haunt me every year. “Yeah, it gets cold up here, but you can always bundle up. But when you’ve stripped off everything the law allows and you’re still hot, that’s as good as it gets.” Famous last words.
But see, I still remember the day I left Fort Lauderdale. It was September 5, 1989. It was 96 degrees, with 87 percent humidity. As I finished loading the U-Haul truck, my arm got against the metal ceiling and I ended up with a second-degree burn. The whole trip north, I gladly bid farewell to the sweltering heat. Sometimes, we’re just too stupid for our own good.
So now, here I am at what may soon be the end of winter, wondering if and when I’ll get to move south again. Last summer it was hot here. Really hot. And I didn’t complain once. No sir. When the temperature got over 90, I was loving life. I took a couple of road trips on my bike, and my only regret was that I didn’t have the time to go farther. Hot is good.
I say it may soon be the end of winter, because this year the groundhog didn’t see his shadow. I don’t know if the legend of Groundhog Day is familiar to our readers on other continents, so let me explain. Every year on February 2, a couple of guys in top hats and long coats pull a groundhog out of a log in front of thousands of spectators. If the groundhog sees his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, it means his eyelids are froze shut.
But for now, the snow has melted and it’s warmed up just a bit. And the ten-day forecast looks promising. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel. My new back tire was installed today, and I’m ready to ride. Before long, the cold days of winter will be a faint memory.
If there’s a point to any of this, it’s that nothing lasts forever. Just as we have to get through Monday to make it till Friday, we have to live through winter to get to spring. And there’s something about springtime that brings out the best in us. It’s a time of rebirth. Flowers bloom, birds sing, and the grass turns green. Then the grass begins to grow. Then it grows so high I have to cut it. Then I have to cut it every week. Oh, don’t get me started.
But just as we endure winter, we also endure the other trials of life. For some it may be illness, a lost job, a shattered relationship, or the loss of a loved one. No matter how dismal things may seem, springtime isn’t too far away. And unlike the weather, we can help it along. We just need to keep things in perspective, tackle one problem at a time, focus on the things we can change, and make the most of the others.
Mark Twain once said, “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody is doing anything about it.” We may not be able to influence Mother Nature, but when it comes to your own personal winter, melting the ice is often as simple as sharing a smile or a few laughs.
And you know, when the town next to yours is enjoying warmer weather, chances are you’re getting a little of your own. Smiles and laughter work the same way. It’s pretty hard to be down when everybody around you is upbeat and happy. So find somebody who needs a smile and give them one of yours. Once you crack that jar open, it may be hard to shut.
Copyright 2011 – Dave Glardon