Mandan News

Dan Ulmer: The best thing about winter is that it eventually ends

Okay, after 61 years and much study I’ve finally concluded what I like about winter… nothing. Nope, nothing… This year is no different than any other, yes we had a long fall but it still fell into winter. And my angst over this matter usually manifests itself when my nose hairs freeze. For those of you who’ve blissfully forgotten about this phenomena, allow me to refresh your fond memories of winter’s life on the northern prairie.

When the temp dips below zero for the first time and one leaves for work at 6 a.m. even we natives are known to forget to take our first breath through our nose. When one forgets this native secret one usually coughs quite hard or suffers a modicum of chest pain from the lung hairs that instantly freeze. However, we natives that experience this environmental problem usually take our second breath through our nose… and as our nose hair crackles we recall that winter has arrived and we pay more attention to the weather forecast so we know how we should take our first breath in the morning.

Most of us up here on the frozen tundra now have car starters, of course I can’t figure out how to work mine, but I understand that those who do really like getting into a warm vehicle. My trick is to just get in and go and hope the windows don’t frost up before I make it to Cappuccino on Collins for my morning latte, and if I talk with Tara long enough the truck is warm for the last leg to Bismarck.

Then there’s these new offices we’re in where we need space heaters to slow the chill… or just leave our parkas on in hopes that Ebenezer will turn up the heat or issue mukluks. I’m quite sure that someone in Florida did all sorts of research on what the ambient temperature should be in the average office in North Dakota and their formula has caught the attention of bean counters all over southern America and geez, they can save a few shekels if they just keep the heat down in winter… like I said, mukluks would be nice… but it’s a new world where bottom lines seem to be more important than comfort…

Then there’s the snow that has turned our driveway to ice. Yep, the first time I slipped getting into my truck was fun. One leg slid out as far as it would go and the other leg went the other way and I caught myself just in time, the first time. The second time, my learning capacity also seems to slow in the winter, I wasn’t so lucky. My legs went in different directions; I grabbed for the truck’s door handle and missed. Then as I was free falling toward the pavement all I could think was “This is gonna hurt,” and it did. I got up and the first thing I noticed was that I was kinda relieved that no one had noticed my acrobatics. The second thing I noticed was this pain in my butt and huge dent in my ego. And when I finally got in the truck I noticed how cold my bare hands were…

So you should have the hint by now I’m not much for winter and winter doesn’t seem to care about me… so it’s kinda like one of those significant other things where we know all their blemishes, but we tolerate each other because we know that things will inevitably get better… won’t they?

The only upside to winter is that every day of winter that passes by gets us one day closer to spring… and wouldn’t you know, winter really isn’t supposed to start until next week, and if either of my loyal readers are lucky I’ll find something else to complain about by then…

May wherever you go be warm enough for you to be there.