Can you believe it? It is winter again already.    
     Winter. That six month (or longer) time of year up here in the northlands when parents sew their kids into their long underwear. The season when people hyperventilate whenever they lose sight of their jumper cables, and livestock farmers wake up in a cold sweat after having nightmares about frozen water fountains.     
    My wife often complains about the length and the severity of our winters. She opines that she would rather live in an exotic tropical locale, the kind of area where a person could spend their days basking in the sun and listening to a gentle breeze whispering through the palm trees. A region where the only ice you have to worry about are the cubes in your piña colada and your biggest concern is whether or not you are developing tan lines.     
    I maintain that moving to such a place would be a huge mistake. I tell her that folks who live in the north have to want to live here and thus have a much deeper appreciation for all the little things in life, such as summer.     
    Another advantage to our chilly climate and our long winters are that they help keep us on an even social keel. The concept of road rage is a good example.     
    We hardly ever see vehicular vehemence in this region, and for good reason. Winter has a way of reprimanding overly agitated drivers by smacking him or her upside the head should they decide to DWA – drive while angry. An icy road is the ultimate antidote to the toxic cocktail of umbrage and arrogance.     
    It does not matter if you are driving a beat-up old rust bucket or a sparkling new Bentley: in the ditch is in the ditch. Winter slashes across all social strata, slamming home the true meaning of the words, “And, the high shall be laid low and the low shall be made high.” This is especially true if you should come to rest atop a 15-foot-tall snowdrift.     
    Go ahead and be impatient and see how far that gets you. Honk your horn at that dopey slowpoke in front of you who is doodling along at a speed that is commonly associated with turtle races. Be sure to make an angry gesture at him when you finally get the chance to pass him by.
    But, who will have the last laugh when, a mile or two later, you spin out of control, blast into the ditch and remove several rods of barbed wire fence with the grill of your shiny new Lexus?     
    And, here is the kicker. The person who is most likely to stop and lend a hand to you would be none other than Mr. Slowpoke.      
    Why? Quite simply because he has been there. He knows how Mr. Get Out of My Way, I’m in a Hurry feels right now. Every one of us living in the Great White North have wallowed in the iniquity of the ditch where we wept, gnashed our teeth and our gears, and prayed for deliverance in the form of a AAA approved tow truck.
    At a moment such as this, Mr. Hurry Up would gladly sell his soul for the opportunity to become better acquainted with a pokey old farmer and his pokey old tractor.     
    Mr. Slowpoke pulls over to offer help, and Mr. Hurry Up is grateful and, at least for a little while, humbled. In that moment, it flashes upon Mr. Hurry Up that we are all in this together, that we are all brothers and sisters whether we drive a an American-made land yacht or an imported roller-skate-sized subcompact. Also, that you should always turn your wheels into a slide or else the road’s surface will not be the only place that will have skid marks.     
    So, this winter, as you travel our snow-packed highways and byways, be courteous to your fellow travelers. Take it slow; arriving a little bit late is better than arriving a lot late with shoes full of slush and cold, wet feet.
    Stop and lend a hand to those in need. Think of all of those times when you overcorrected and slammed on the brakes and slid off the path of righteousness and into the purgatory of the ditch.     
    And remember to give thanks for this season. Because if it were not for winter, we might soon devolve into a swarm of scurrying, godless lemmings.     
    For as we all know, there is no such thing as an atheist in a snowdrift.
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. 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.