A case of seasonal phewA quotation attributed to Mark Twain insists that “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” Actually, it is doubtful he ever wrote or said this, but the person who did wasn’t as funny or as famous. So there.
By: Reg Henry, The Dickinson Press
A quotation attributed to Mark Twain insists that “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” Actually, it is doubtful he ever wrote or said this, but the person who did wasn’t as funny or as famous. So there.
As it happens, someone has done something about it. That someone is me. It wasn’t much of a thing but it was something.
To rebuff the elements and to console the frozen, I kept a diary during the recent harsh winter spell that gripped the nation and sent icy blasts up people’s trouser legs, forming icicles on their under shorts, much to the consternation of wannabe underpants bombers.
Day One: What a pleasant and picturesque scene the winter provides! The snow falls gently as if driven by zephyrs, coating the trees with an exquisite gloss. Every home takes on the appearance of a Currier & Ives calendar. All are snug under the blanket of snow.
Why, I bet Mom is inside making cookies and Dad, ever the traditionalist, is away at the store, buying ample supplies of bread and toilet paper, because the good folks at Storm Warning Alert Tracker Calamity have predicted in their newscasts a bit of a cold front.
Day Two: How lucky we are to have seasons! Pity the poor people in Australia, where it is hot and folks have to drag themselves to the beach due to social pressure. Pity the poor Aussie girls who can’t afford a different bikini every day so hardly wear anything when they go surfing. They are missing all the winter fun! Why, I think I shall have a cup of cocoa and blow my nose.
Day Three: No point in sitting around inside counting my blessings. It is time to shovel the sidewalk. Some people have snowblowers but those are for snow wimps. Purists like myself do it with a snow shovel, the most honest of seasonal implements.
This is the way the pioneers did it. They got out their snow shovels and got the wagon train moving again. Nothing stops the joy of shoveling — except, of course, the occasional heart attack or back spasm. But, I say, no pain, no gain.
Day Four: My, the sidewalk is long. It seemed quite short in the summer. However, I am proud of my handiwork. My sweeps with the snow shovel make me a veritable Norman Rockwell of the frozen arts. No salt for me — that would not only destroy the environment but also the aesthetics of the winter moment.
A cheerful neighbor — a ruddy-faced Republican — yells out, “Hey, Reg, tell Al Gore to send over some global warming, will ya!” Ha, ha, ha! I join in the merry joke. I could point out that unusual weather is predicted in climate change theory and that weather is not climate. But such fellows have so few good jokes that it seems churlish to raise an objection. Besides, a public relations problem does lurk here — if there is not enough snow, it is global warming, and if there is too much snow, it is global warming. I shovel on, but the joy has gone out of it.
Day Five: That’s odd. It is snowing again. Will it ever stop? I swear someone came and made the sidewalk longer during the night. It is getting increasingly hard to shovel it before I go to work. The wind has picked up.
I decide that it might be better to take the bus. Good thing I don’t. When the old 16A passes by, I see that it has been replaced by a dog sled with the passengers sitting on the back. The wind moans. I have a slight pain in my chest. Is that a heart attack or did the cocoa go down the wrong way?
Day Six: Woke up this morning to find a wolf in the kitchen. It must be a friend of my dog Sooner. What big eyes it has! What big teeth! As he is so big and strong, maybe he could help me shovel the sidewalk, which is now the length of the average airport runway.
When I go out to pour the recently purchased 2 tons of salt on the sidewalk, I see a polar bear lumber by. It is followed shortly afterward by a pursuing Eskimo with spear in hand.
“What place is this?” the Eskimo inquires.
“Sewickley, Pennsylvania,” I holler back.
“Ah, we have 100 words for snow in my language but only one word for Sewickley,” he says enigmatically.
“And is that word ‘spoiled’?” I ask. But he cannot hear me through his earmuffs as he disappears into the blizzard.
Day Seven: Bread and toilet paper supply has run out. Wind howling. Despair mounting. Rip up Currier & Ives calendar to make fire.
— Henry writes for Scripps Howard News Service and is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail him at email@example.com.