September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Somewhere on a farm, far, far away, winter was wonderful

By Ron Johnson- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Somewhere on a farm far, far away, a young boy did not dislike winter. Then, he actually enjoyed a new snow, all fluffy, white, clean and promising.
Snow, aided by the lower angle of the sun, painted long, blue shadows in front of every object. The crisp, winter breeze nibbling at his face as he happily explored a bright, white world brought a rosy, innocent glow to the lad's cheeks.
Aaahh, the days of youth: the good, old days.
"Where's the blasted snow shovel? I'm never going to get to work on time! Just what we need - more (blankety-blank) snow!"
As you might have guessed, those previous three sentences are not from the good, old days. Nor are they from the days of my innocent youth.
They are from a recent March morning - a morning that found us blessed with another blanket of new, stinking, rotten, miserable, nasty, cold, deep snow. Jessica was already running late as we plodded through knee-deep snow to our faithful, four-wheel-drive pickup truck, Red Ranger.
Ranger took us up our ski hill driveway to the county road, where Van Johnson has been parked every night for more than three months. We don't dare risk driving, sliding the beast down to the house, for that is where it would permanently rest - at least until the fat robins once more bounce and bob amid the green grass and there's nary a snowflake in sight.
So Van Johnson stays off to one side of the driveway, near the mailbox. The van has a splendiferous view of the Crawford County countryside, with pastures, fields and woods slipping away into the valley of Plum Creek and off to Shanghai Ridge beyond.
But we certainly do not park the van atop the hill so it can take in the view. It's up there so it's just a matter of a bit of shoveling and scattering a couple of tons of kitty litter to get the van backed up and onto the paved road.
We learned that lesson the hard way. For our first two winters here, we naively tried to navigate the hill with front-wheel drive vehicles. It made for three months-plus of angst and - to borrow a Biblical phrase - "much weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Our saintly neighboring beef and crop farmer has faithfully and religiously plowed our driveway since November. At last count, he has driven his pickup truck or skid-steer over here no less than 22 times and scraped, heaved and hoisted away the snow.
It's not just snow that has bedeviled our driveway. The circular turnaround by the buildings has become a skating rink.
I swear that late one night I heard the clash of bodies and the swish of sharp blades out there. Grunts and muffled shouts in Swedish and Russian rose to my ears.
In an effort to melt our icy driveway/hockey rink, I asked our saintly neighboring beef and crop farmer (who also happens to be the town chairman) if he thought a sprinkling of sand/salt on the driveway would do any good.
The very next morning, a wide, township dump truck slowly waddled and slid its way backward down our ski slope driveway. As it went, the backup alarm merrily tinkled, as if to assure me that all would be well.
All was well for a time, as the brown sand whirled out from the back of the truck. But all was well no longer when the truck struck an especially slick patch of ice as it turned to follow the curve of the driveway. I watched from my office windows and caught my breath - sharply - when it appeared that the truck might tip over onto one side. Thankfully, the truck did not tip, and the ski hill became quite navigable. For two days.
That's when a nor-wester blew in overnight and socked us with another half foot of the white stuff. It buried our beautiful sand and salt, rendering the ski hill pretty much an unnavigable ski hill once more.
But it was heigh-ho Red Ranger to the rescue! We got Jessica safely and certainly up to Van Johnson. That's when the snow shovel tirade erupted.
If it was the snow alone, this winter would be memorable. But wait, there's more! Let's not forget the cold.
It raged in just before Wisconsin's gun deer season and has been a steady and persistent scoundrel on our doorsteps. One indicator of the cold has been our firewood usage.
The first two winters here, we burned four loads of wood each time. This time, we have torched all of 12 loads - so far.
This winter of '13-'14 has been one for the record books. A month ago it was dubbed "the coldest winter in 32 years." Now it has been labeled "the coldest winter in 35 years."
If spring doesn't stop lollygagging around, this might soon become the coldest, nastiest, low-down, double-dog, snow-in-your-shorts, worst winter ever.
Yes, once, on a farm far, far away - I actually liked winter.[[In-content Ad]]


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