The Winter Stall

Numerically, February is the shortest month. Psychologically, it slogs along like a clueless lazy-ass traipsing through the calendar. February owns all of winter. We might as well X-off all other months capable of unrelenting snow and temperatures that make ice, and call every bit of it “February,” the 212-day month. Winter has stalled and there’s no end in sight.
 
For our region, February is that time of year when we’re as winter-conditioned as we’re going to get. Teens-below zero are shameful to bring up during idle chitchat in line at the grocery store. We’re earning our bragging rights, even though inhabitants of Alaska and the Canadian Arctic snicker at our comparative intolerance.
 
Truth be told, I love winter under most circumstances. After a snowfall, nothing is as fresh-smelling and pristine-looking than pure white everywhere on everything. February is just a placebic joke to humor us until the fishing opener, a.k.a. Mother’s Day. But even then, ice sometimes isn’t off the lakes and sideways snow isn’t uncommon. The early stages of winter at least had deer season and an assortment of holidays.
 
That’s when layers of snow begin to build, concealing remnants of autumn in its mortar. There’s no remembering what all we’ll find under it when it melts. The other day, a raven extracted a genuine treasure—a convenience store coffee cup. It was buried so deeply in the snowbank that he disappeared for a moment. Then he popped up, cup rim clamped in his beak. It appeared to block his vision, but he flew to the nearest tree and was obviously in no mood to share his espresso fix.
 
As additional testimony to February’s current snowpack, refer to Exhibit A, the photo. We began having to put up a snow fence for the past couple of winters. We didn’t want to because it’s a neighborhood eyesore. However, we live on a corner that’s near a snowmobile spur trail and a town artery to food and fuel. The fence isn’t to block snow; it’s to discourage sleds from cutting through our yard.
 
Let there be no misunderstanding, I hold our area snowmobile clubs and training programs in high regard. They provide extras to the community like trail grooming for our sled dog race. But this is another case of the vastly respectful majority taking a hit for the few who besmirch the sport.
 
Some of the latter have an affinity for embankments and our corner would make Evel Knievel drool. At the rate we’ve been getting snow, sleds will soon be able to drive across the top of the snow fence. That tip of fence stake to the right in the photo is down the incline toward our street. There’s another stake even closer to the street that’s buried somewhere beneath the snow. All stakes are equal height, about five feet. Maybe I shouldn’t expose this publicly, but one open-throttle run at that snowbank and drivers could change bulbs in the street lamp.
 
Oddly, the corner stop sign appears to represent full-bore acceleration. It had a dire consequence for one driver recently. An unopened beer can ejected from his left pocket. Upon examination, I found the can wasn’t my brand, so I thought it best to dump it rather than chase down its rightful owner. But as the last of its suds glugged down the drain, I got to thinking. Our local radio station broadcasts Personal and Emergency Messages for lost and found items. Maybe I should have sent in an announcement about a lost beer can and see who might show up to claim it.

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