TOWNER, N.D. -- After a few years of having winters we'd like to forget, this year, we've gotten a winter we want to remember . . . so far. On Jan. 10, I did chores wearing a vest instead of a jacket and there wasn't a speck of snow on the ground...
TOWNER, N.D. -- After a few years of having winters we'd like to forget, this year, we've gotten a winter we want to remember . . . so far. On Jan. 10, I did chores wearing a vest instead of a jacket and there wasn't a speck of snow on the ground. It was so nice, I even had my earflaps tucked up inside of my cap, and that doesn't often happen in January in North Dakota.
These are the little things that memories are made of, and good memories at that. Now, as I write this, the weather is more like old times. The temperature has dropped, the wind is blowing, and snow is coming down, not a lot, but the ground is white again.
When we started having these record-breaking warm temperatures, I was struck by how many people dug back in their memory banks and remembered winters past for the sake of comparison.
My uncle told me back in December, "this is the kind of fall we had in 1936. But we caught heck in the new year after." A friend told me we were having another 1941, and it stayed nice all winter. I heard another farmer on the radio say it was just like 1979. He remembered because he was building a shop that winter and they worked on it until the middle of January without any cold weather or snow to slow them down. He didn't say what it was like after that.
I suppose those of us who spend a lot of time outside have reason to remember the easy winters and the hard winters.
Dad would tell me pretty vivid stories about the winter of 1948 and '49, feeding cows with a team of horses and a hay sled, and making the 16-mile trip to town to get supplies with the same team and sled when the snow was deep and the temperatures were frigid. I don't suppose the memory would be so indelibly marked if you went from a warm house into a warm garage to get into a heated car to drive to a heated office to do your day's work before auto starting your car for the warm commute back.
So I wonder if we've gotten out and enjoyed enough of this nice weather to mark our memory of it for the future. Remember that winter it was so nice in January that we stayed inside and watched television? No, that won't cut it. Remember that winter it was so nice in January that we rode our bikes down the road and it felt just like spring? That might make for a longer lasting memory.
The other common denominator I hear, along with the comparisons and reminiscing about winters past, is the fear of the price we'll pay for having it so nice this long. That's the kind of people we are, I guess. We believe in retribution.
We're really going to get it now, people say, as they imagine torrential snowfall, a plummeting mercury, and general misery as we pay for the good times and nice weather we had in November, December and January.
It's a little twisted, I know, to think you can't have something positive without a negative payback to even the score. Kind of a northern climate ying and yang universe with a commitment to vengeance.
Whether the weather is fair or foul from here on out, there ain't much we can do about it. If nothing else, I'll be warmed by the memories of the way the winter of 2011 and '12 started out. We've already made that deposit to our memory bank.