Another new year, fresh like a just-opened jar of peanut butter with that pristine swirl it feels so good to dig your knife into.
Oh I could talk about how this marks the first year out of the “0” years and what we might call them now that they’re gone – the “aughts,” or the “naughts”, or the suckiest decade since the 1930s if we’re being honest.
Or I could, blogger-like, conjure up some best-of-the-decade lists, for movies or records or porn stars or something.
Or I could lament, in full middle-aged fashion, the sheer lack of originality and freshness in all things media-rich, the repetition of styles and endless remakes of vintage culture – the sequels and prequels and boxed sets – a sure sign that the one so lamenting is himself not so fresh anymore. (“If you are tired of London you are tired of life.” )
Or I could remark, as a side note, on the failed Christmas underwear bomber. But perhaps what’s more interesting is that this attempted terror attack is, according to the media, merely a side note. This may be the year we warm up to terror as the English and the Israelis have – relegating it to the ordinary risks of life, as it should be, rather than the sole focus of the government’s efforts (hello – jobs?). Me – I’m much more convinced I will die not in a conflagration of Islamist vengeance but at the hands of a sober, inexperienced and wholly disinterested teenage driver staring at a cell phone.
Mark those words – I’ve seen it in a vision.
Instead, though, I’ll just talk about the weather. Because it’s the most remarkable thing about this year so far. At least around here.
It began in mid-December. We were all feeling fine about the news from the meteorologists that it would be a mild winter. But before winter had a chance to get here and be mild, we had about 11 inches of snow dumped on us.
Mild snow, I guess. And mild zero-degree temperatures. And mild fatal car wrecks.
Then, a couple of weeks later on Christmas eve, an old-fashioned, Laura Ingalls Wilder type blizzard rolled in. Whiteout conditions, and another twelve inches of snow. We had to eat the horses.
OK, we didn’t eat the horses. I wanted to, but there was plenty of peanut butter.
Nobody moved – Christmas was effectively cancelled (a small bright spot) – the city froze solid for a few days while everyone either looked out the window and marveled or – we the unlucky ones – were marveled at as we lifted endless shovels full, tried to find a place to put the four-foot snow drifts that had collected in the driveway. Turned our faces from the biting crystals as we blew them aside and the North wind blew them back at us.
As the gutters filled with pounds and pounds of ice, a solid wall of it gushing a freeze-frame cascade of watery stalactites.
I had to buy a roof rake and actually shovel the snow off the roof. It’s just not natural.
But hey, we’re plains folk. We’re hardy, or so I’m told. So we got the job done, got the walks shoveled and the roofs raked, and the cars unstuck and the snow blower gassed up again.
Because here it is next week, and the forecast is for snow, snow, and snow.
Here on the plains.