Every year about this time it is easy to sit back and wonder whether we made the correct decision when we chose to again stay here in the frozen Midwest this winter. We got a good taste of cold weather early, along with the accompanying icy roads and snow-filled walks. I heard a wild goose calling on Thanksgiving Day, and looked up at the gray sky. And there went another huge V of feathered, flying Canadian tourists heading south. They moved along with such grace and apparent ease that they made the moving of snow and the chipping of sidewalk ice seem all the more difficult and distasteful. And made me wonder whether or not they might really be much more intelligent than I.
The warm weather of the Southland can be quite an attraction this time of year. We do occasionally manage a trip to California, Texas or Florida for several weeks, jaunts we thoroughly enjoy, but have just never quite got the bug bad enough to take us away from home and familiar surroundings for the entire season.
In winter, life slows down to a walk, at times almost to a standstill in many of our small towns and villages here in the Midwest. The high point of the day is often just picking up the mail and leafing through all of the advertisements. And then there is always the weather to talk about. Who had the lowest thermometer reading last night? And what was the wind chill? Just when is that next snow storm moving in? Which radio station's forecast did you listen to? Or which TV channel? Did you see that colored map last night? Man, those big upper air currents are coming right down from Canada. From right up by the North Pole, actually. Well, we can't expect anything much better for quite awhile yet. Remember we always get a bad snowstorm and drifted roads the week of the state high school basketball tournament. And the raccoons and the muskrats were really haired out heavy this year. And that means cold weather. And they were fat, too. That means a long winter.
But we'll make it through the rough weather. We Midwesterners are survivors. And when the snowbirds start drifting back home in the spring, we'll be all ready and prepared to tell them all about the winter they missed out on here at home. And we'll have our choice. We can either boast about how rough we had it. Or we can tell them that it was really mild, and the daily temperatures averaged almost as warm as it was in the trailer parks where they wintered. Here is the tale of an old fellow who chooses to remain at home:
PATCH OF FLOOR
Where the sun sneaks in the window
And warms up a patch of floor,
My old hound dog ruled that spot once,
But he ain't around no more.
The years done crept up and caught him
And they whisked him far away
To a land that's warm and gentle,
With no winters cold and gray.
The sun still sneaks in that window,
Still warms up that patch of floor;
I'm content to sit and rock here
And re-live the days of yore
When I was a whole lot younger
And the winters seemed more mild,
When this old man could enjoy them
'Most as much as does a child.
I s'pose if I started looking,
I could find that kind of place,
Where I could go split my kindling
Without half-freezing my face.
T'would be warmer down in Mesa
Or out in New Mexico.
I could hie myself to Brownsville,
Might find folks there that I know.
But I 'spect I'll sit and dream here
Till this long, cold winter's o'er
Where the sun sneaks in my window
And warms up this patch of floor.