People my age are secretly pleased with the nasty winter we have been having.     
    “It’s about time we had a hard winter like those we had to cope with when we were kids,” we think to ourselves.
    We Baby Boomers believe that today’s youth are hopelessly mollycoddled. The Boomer generation invented the internet and rock music, which makes it possible for today’s youth to download music, play video games and hack into the Defense Department all at the same time. And do those whippersnappers ever thank us? No!     
    Tough winters force us to call upon our inner resources and find novel ways to cope. And not just by reading novels.     
    Some years ago, my sisters invented a method for dealing with the long cold. At midwinter, they would throw an “I Hate Winter” party.     
    There was only one rule regarding these gatherings: You had to attend wearing summer attire. Nothing puts you in a summertime mood like donning your shorts, tank top and flip-flops, even though this mood is swiftly destroyed as you dash through the sub-zero chill on your way out to the car.     
    My sisters would decorate their basement in a tropical motif. A thermostat cranked up to sizzling bacon and an inflatable kiddie pool rounded out the illusion of summertime.     
    During one of these midwinter soirees, my now-ex brother-in-law pulled me aside. He was from New York and probably thought he that could teach this country bumpkin a thing or two.
    “I’ve got a something to show you,” he whispered as he rubbed his nose and sniffed meaningfully. We retreated to a dark corner of the basement and he produced a small baggy of powder.
    “Straight from the highlands of Sri Lanka,” he murmured.     
    This was not my first rodeo. I had been introduced to this sort of thing back in second grade when my cousin Jim tricked me into snorking a chunk of a Fizzy tablet up my nose. I quickly learned that Fizzy abuse can lead to nasal detonation.     
    I put the proffered baggy to my nose and inhaled deeply. Its impact was instant.
    The brown powder’s aroma transported me back to my childhood. It is a warm summer afternoon and Mom is pulling a pan of baked apples from the oven. The apples are seductively supple in their tanned skins; the heady fragrance of spices is a palpable presence in the kitchen.     
    A small tear escaped my eye as my brother-in-law grinned and said, “Good stuff, isn’t it? Best cinnamon on the planet.”           
    I told myself that was a one-off incident. But there is no such thing as just once.     
    The next day I snuck into the pantry and took a whiff of black pepper. The effect was again immediate.     
    I am 6 years old and my sister Janet and I have brought lunch out to the field for our father. Dad idles his John Deere “A” tractor on the headland, and we all sit on the ground. My job was to carry the hot coffee that sloshes around in a mason jar that had been wrapped with a dishtowel.
    Dad discovers a pair of extra scrambled egg sandwiches in the lunch box. Janet and I happily join Dad in wolfing down the luscious treats. The generous sprinkles of black pepper Mom had applied to the egg tickles the back of my throat.     
    Some days later, my wife and I were at the supermarket. I accidentally became separated from her and wandered over to the spice aisle.     
    I broke into a cold sweat as I gaped, slack-jawed, at the infinite possibilities. My hand trembled as I reached for a small bottle. I opened it and inhaled deeply.     
    It is suddenly a balmy spring afternoon. I am 9, and my friend Bobby and I are constructing a deadwood fort in our farm grove. We are discussing how we would defend our stronghold against desperados or, worse, a marauding herd of girls.      
    Our herculean labors cause Bobby and me to be gripped by acute hunger pangs. We decide to remedy the situation by sneaking into a nearby farmhouse to requisition some much-needed grub.     
    As we stealthily slip into the kitchen, we are walloped by the perfume of warm gingerbread. Cooling cookies beckon invitingly from the kitchen table.     
    We almost make a clean getaway when we are accosted by the authorities.
    “Do you boys want some milk to go with those cookies?” asks my mom.     
    A thump from a shopping cart jolted me from my reverie.
    “Get your nose out of that ginger,” my wife hissed. “You’re embarrassing me.”
    “Cut me some slack,” I replied. “I’m just trying to cope with this nasty winter.”
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, S.D. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: jerry.n@dairystar.com.