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Where have all the flowers gone?

January 25, 2011
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

A book of wildflowers sits fallow, wanting, eager to display the wonders of a season yet to arrive. Fresh snow covers the earth, the drive, the road, forcing inward the thoughts and desires of some time warmer, some time more fit for both humans and animals to rejoice and frolic. While not holed in a cabin, the fever runs deep; inward, reflective, contemplative; the thoughts arrive and must be sorted. Winter well past the solstice is a time of reflection, of base human desire -- a desire for brighter, longer, warmer days -- for wildflowers and robins, earthworms and crickets. The human heart soars reflective.

A bicycle long unridden, a barefoot walk long untaken, a warm – windows down – ride to nowhere; these are but a few of the things for which I yearn.

While winter, and those cold January nights are a time for reflection, there are also some things I’ve observed.

A warm kitten who has never witnessed a warm day or a hot August night is the only innocent not longing for those warm delights.The outside dogs are contentedly nestled in the mudroom where their more compassionate owner has allowed them.

Winter, and being closed in, tests our endurance – our mettle. Short days, long nights; cold feet, warm beverages.

We have been fortunate this winter in that while we have had cold and we have had snow, it hasn’t been as windy as the past several winters. In my opinion, wind plus snow, plus cold equals misery. My enjoyment of snow is directly proportional to the amount I have to move. There have been no extreme drifts like we’ve seen the past five winters. Oh yeah, I know, it isn’t over yet.

I wish I could say I tend to sleep more during the long nights of winter, but I don’t. Because I’ve been chased by the insomnia demon for most of my adult life, I just tend to lay in bed more and think. Isn’t that what you do when you want to sleep and can’t think?

Winter is the time to read. Winter is the time to wax philosophical and get your “house” in order. Winter is the time to become reacquainted with some of the things you haven’t had time to do.

I have observed that ants don’t die in the winter either. A fully frozen carpenter ant will come alive when thawed. You have to be very careful you don’t carry a carpenter ant into the house on a piece of split oak wood.

And where do box elder bugs and oriental beetles come from in the dead of winter? The cats are polished hunters. I’ll see them following one of those bugs with their eyes, (in Winks case – eye) just waiting for their chance to pounce.

Sissy three legged dogs will not venture far when it’s zero and windy when the call to nature arrives.

Cats don’t like wind in their face. Cats do better when the snow is dry. Cats don’t like to get their feet wet, but generally don’t mind getting their heads wet. Why is that?

Warm layers, warm coat – I brace against the frigid cold which stings my face and blurs my vision. I love to be outside; it is so hard when it is this cold.

On a gray and dreary cold January day, the confused might think it night.

This morning it was so cold even the mercury in the thermometer refused to show her silvery head. I had to do a double take; it was nine degrees below zero!

I wanted to go down to the timber to retrieve a piece of equipment. I was wearing so many layers I had this real concern that if I fell down, I wouldn’t be able to get back up. My plan, if I did fall, was to just try and roll home and hope somebody found me before spring.

It was so cold this morning I had to climb up on the roof to break the smoke off the chimney.

It’s so cold outside even the synthetic oil in the Jeep looked like molasses on the dipstick.

It’s so cold outside that when I stepped out of my Jeep to retrieve the mail; my shadow froze to the lane.

It’s so cold today even those long term politicos have their hands in their own pockets.

During these extended stretches of extreme cold, even global warming sounds like a good idea.

It was so cold this morning that when I turned on the shower I got pelted with hail stones.

It’s been so cold lately I heard rumors that certain members of the Toledo City Government are talking about putting weather stripping around the city limits; if you can ban wind generators, then why not the cold?

Speaking of the city, and taking advantage of the cold, why don’t we turn the water slides at the water park into bobsled runs during the winter? It could be a good revenue stream and the city cops wouldn’t have to write as many seatbelt violation tickets to bring in money.

Speaking of those seatbelt violation tickets, isn’t that really just a tax for stupid people?

I was preparing to climb up on a roof the other day. I had on several layers and then a large parka. I made the mistake of putting my seatbelt on before I started the jeep. I was so confined in the seat I wasn’t able to reach the slot to insert the key. All the layers spilled out over the seatbelt latch and I couldn’t even get to it to release the belt so I could start the vehicle! I was trapped for a few panic stricken moments.

I have a couple columns up in the air. I’ll be able to write them down once they thaw.

Until next time--

You can read past columns by visiting and clicking on the “Local Columns” button at the bottom of the page.

In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2011 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342.

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