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COWBOY LOGIC: Dressing for the elements

TOWNER, N.D. -- I suppose if we lived in Florida, we wouldn't own even one winter jacket, much less mittens, wool caps with ear lappers, snow boots or insulated coveralls.

TOWNER, N.D. -- I suppose if we lived in Florida, we wouldn't own even one winter jacket, much less mittens, wool caps with ear lappers, snow boots or insulated coveralls.

But we have four distinct seasons in North Dakota, and winter can be real distinct. As my warm-weather, California brother told me, though, if the weather always is beautiful, it's never special. If it's 80 degrees and sunny everyday, it probably doesn't seem real special.

In my neighborhood, 80 degrees felt real special after last winter. And if you've had a hot, dry summer, the coolness of autumn is special, the moist greenness of spring is special, and, although I hate to admit it, the clean, crisp whiteness of winter is even special.

The other truth confessed to me by semi-arctic expatriates who've moved to more temperate climates is that everything is easier when the weather is warm, at least in the winter.

Open roads that aren't slick with ice or snow, cars that start without any coaxing or strategically applied heat, the freedom of stepping out the door in your shirt sleeves without bundling up. It would make for an easier life, but probably less special.

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Kids and cold

Life without kids probably is easier, too, but definitely less special. In winter, getting those little tikes ready to go outside is darn special. So special it just about drives you crazy.

Children come with milestones that mark their growth and maturity. Their first words, their first steps, the transition from diapers to big boy underwear. The list goes on.

The next stage I'm really looking forward to is when these little rascals can dress themselves to go outside in the winter.

I remember the day our firstborn got all five fingers in the right receptacles of the receiving glove as I dressed him. I felt like I'd just hit the jackpot on a slot machine. I just about jumped up and did a little victory dance. Now he puts his own gloves on. I'm so proud.

Our baby girl still is struggling with thumb placement in her mittens. As a parent, you have to work fast to manipulate their digits into position. Patience wears thin quickly on a kid as you try to get the gloves and mittens on.

Most every hand-me-down jacket we have for our kids has something wrong with the zipper, major or minor. Sometimes you have to switch to snaps or Velcro on the fly, or make an improvised zipper pull from a paper clip to get them out the door.

Right snow boot on the right foot, left boot on the left foot, pull the stocking cap down so that only their eyes are showing and push them out the door to enjoy the fresh air.

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It's no wonder we're late for everything. But sometimes you get a hug in the middle of the process as you lace up their boots, or they smile at you as you zip their jacket up to their chin, and you realize this, too, will be one of the things you miss when they have grown into insolent teenagers.

But I won't miss the mucous management when they return from their play time outside. I'll be a happy dad when all three kids quit sniffling and can blow their own noses. Another milestone to reach for a cold weather family.

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