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
I hate winter. Grew up in Wisconsin, lived in California for 13 years after high school, then moved to Minnesota almost two years ago.
…well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Yeah, that’s how those things work. Right now the only thing keeping me here is my grandchildren. Otherwise, I’d be headed south.
Oh Dave I giggled right out loud! Yep, snow is beautiful…until you have to shovel it; ice is lovely…until you have to walk on it, drive on it, or feed cows on it. But yet… Oh well it’s still a beautiful world! And when the sun glistens on the snow, creating a world of rainbow colored gems, it’s just simply downright breathtaking!
There are many times I take my wee house dog out for a walk around the barnyard before daylight, when the temp is down around 20, without a coat; only my blanket robe and fur lined slippers.
It’s peaceful, it’s quiet, it’s serene. And I feel very sorry for anyone who isn’t me.
Ride your magnificent bike, even if it is cold, and enjoy.
And please keep sharing the laughs.
Thanks Jan. I thought about you as I was writing that one. You’re a little further to the east from where I was (at least I think you are), but the drive north on Route 93 from Missoula can be simply awesome.
I don’t know Jan- that first winter we spent back up here from Florida was rough. At -5 Farenheit andwith two feet of snow on the ground, I tried to let our “wee house dog (a chihuahua) out to go potty and she saw the snow taller than her. She looked at me like I was out of my mind.
Welcome Spring !! Today i saw at least two dozen robins in my back yard . Hooray!
Well blow some of that weather my way!
Lovely post and lots of images, I reckon we got it easy in the UK. Mind you was -2c this morning. Love the bike.M
Thanks Marie! I was hoping to ride it today, because the it’s supposed to get pretty warm this afternoon, but right now we’re about -3c, so I guess it’ll have to stay in the garage for another day.
At least you were honest about, “complain doesn’t even scratch the surface.” I thought I was going to have to call you on that.
Blabber mouth! 🙂
Well said, Dave. When I lived in WI my morning drive to work was gorgeous. All the trees and shrubs were covered with hoarfrost and sparkled some joy into my half-awake brain. I love to look at winter but not participate in it. Now, I have the opposite problem. Short winters but long, hot, extremely humid summers with every known allergan tickling at my nose. Either way a smile can make the most miserable day sunny.
Sharon, I’m sure there are few places in the world where people don’t complain about the weather. Too hot, too cold, too rainy, too dry, too windy, too foggy. I remember something my dad told me when I was in the Navy. He said the best two duty stations in the world are the one you just left, and the one you’re going to. I guess sometimes we just need a reason to complain. That’s why I’m glad we’ve got the ability to laugh. It may not change the weather, but it helps us keep things in perspective.
If you’re anywhere Huber Heights slide by and pick me up . . . I’ll break out Bro’s Leathers and enjoy the ride but I’ll take Long-John’s along as well for comfort!
As a matter of fact, Huber Heights is just up the road. Nice to have friends close by!
This year Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow, but he spoke to the people. He said “It’s cold enough to freeze the cojones off a groundhog.” I can’t imagine going 50 mph in 35 degrees.
Keep ’em coming, Dave!
Thanks Rose! I don’t know how people came up with the legend of the Punxsutawney Phil, but it’s amazing how people in the north are glued to the TV on February 2 to see what he had to say. I think you’re right. I think he just looked around and said, “Brrrrr!!!!” So much for an early spring.
I too am a “Freezy Rider” living in WI. Been riding for almost two years (learned when I was 52!), and I ride to work–about 35-40 miles one way–even when the temp is in the low 40s. I love it, partly because it’s refreshing (understatement?) and partly because the looks I get are too funny. I’m impatiently awaiting spring so I can get out and ride again, even if it means freezing off a body part or two!
If you’re in Wisconsin, it’ll be at least a few more weeks before you can tolerate a ride that long. But hang in there – it’s coming!