A name for everythingComing up with some seasonal nomenclature.
By: Ryan Taylor, Agweek
TOWNER, N.D. — It seems like everything gets a name these days. They’ve named hurricanes for years and now they name winter storms. They name pieces of legislation to make them easier to reference as we curse it or bless it. We name cars and pets and kids, too, of course. It all goes to the point that things are easier to remember and track if they have an assigned handle.
I’ve been thinking it’s time to start naming the seasons as we go to help us remember them down the road. I suppose Shakespeare got the ball rolling on that when he coined the phrase, “the winter of our discontent” in his play, Richard the Third.
John Steinbeck liked the Shakespeare reference, too, and used it for a book title. I read that it was also used to reference a tough winter for British politicians in 1978 to ’79 that is remembered for cold weather, numerous labor strikes and eventual political turnover.
Winter is always kind of a season of melancholy, what with the short daylight hours and all. And if we remember them by name, it’ll also remind us that spring does come and each winter hits the history books eventually.
I’d call the winter of 2009 to ’10 the “winter of the 10-foot snow and 20-foot snowbanks.” I suppose I could mention the blocked roads, the stuck vehicles and the stranded hay bales out in the fields, but you gotta draw the word count line somewhere when you’re naming seasons.
I’d call last year’s super mild winter the “winter without skiing,” since the brown hue of the prairie kept our family’s cross country skis stowed away in the shed all winter long.
The winter of 1996 to ’97 I’d call the “winter of the many blizzards” — eight in all, I think, with April’s “Blizzard Hannah” being the most memorable to me. I was dragging newborn calves into the barn with a horse and sled for hours on end in the fury of Miss Hannah.
I remembered the name Hannah because I remembered the storm, and I knew it was the eighth storm because “H” is the eighth letter in the alphabet. That’s how the storm naming thing works. This year, according to the Weather Channel’s naming system, the eighth winter storm would be Helen.
Our local weather namers in North Dakota must not be using the Weather Channel system because we just had Blizzard Dolley rather than the suggested Blizzard Draco. The Weather Channel was going with a Roman/Greek theme — Athena, Brutus, Caesar and Draco (who, we all know, was the first legislator of Athens in ancient Greece). I’ll take Dolley over Draco for a name, and the way most of the legislature in North Dakota has been acting this winter, there’s no need to name anything after legislators.
So I won’t get into naming the individual storms, but in response to a distinct phenomenon on the ranch this winter, I believe I’ll christen this season the “winter of the frozen bale twine.” It’s a deserved name this year as we try to hack as much of the plastic twine off our round bales as we can while we feed the cows. It’s been an icy, frustrating, losing battle.
And if we were to record the season with a small pictograph on a buffalo hide like the “winter counts” of my Native American friends, you’d see a round bale, a cowboy with a knife and a black cloud above his head with lightning and cursing symbols spilling out.
Here’s to spring, sun-warmed hay bales and full pieces of twine that pull off without effort after this “winter of the frozen bale twine,” goes down in history.