C.W. Gusewelle

Turning a cold shoulder to winter

C.W. Gusewelle
C.W. Gusewelle

So winter has come.

Uninvited, and too soon. And always, like an unloved relative, planning to stay longer than wanted.

It’s a season for which I’m altogether unprepared.

Some men who live along our street have snow blowers. I don’t even own a shovel. When storms are forecast with big winds or baseball-size hail, those provident men have tidy garages — even


ones — in which to shelter and protect their automobiles.

Often their garages are equipped with workbenches for doing carpentry or minor home repairs and racks for the orderly storage of their tools. I have no tools or, even if I did, no ability to use them.

My cars are parked on the drive, or at the curb out front. At one time in great antiquity I owned a lawn mower — not a riding one, but the kind you walk behind and push. It is long gone, but in any case there would be nowhere to keep it.

The garage — for I do have one — is filled with crates of plates and abandoned cookware, cartons of books, broken chairs, an old baby bed and other retired pieces of furniture, rolls of carpet and boxes of saved artifacts from our daughters’ college years.

Not even to mention at least six large metal file cabinets filled with sheets of foolscap — reams upon reams of the stuff — that over the course of 50 years or longer I’ve filled with words.

To summarize then, I’m not a winter-ready sort of fellow. I regret that we’re in the dark of the year, with a stretch of bitter weather ahead. And that is odd because there was a time — more years ago than I can readily count — when I actually enjoyed the challenge that came with the season’s turn.

I was in middle age before I discovered skiing. And I loved it — until I made a disabling mistake on a Colorado slope.

One February — much younger then, and not yet married — I undertook a solo trek, three days and two nights, across an unpeopled stretch of hilly Ozark woodland. The temperature was 7 degrees below zero, with 14 inches of snow on the ground. It was a wonderful adventure.

Forty-one years ago, shortly after we moved into our present home, a three-day blizzard blanketed the city. Power lines came down. Our stack of fireplace wood was locked under a 4-inch sheet of ice. For nine days and nights. Like much of the city, we were without heat or light.

I used that time to introduce us to our neighbors by creating a snow family in the front yard: a snow dad and snow mom, a pair of snow toddlers (our daughters), two snow beagles and a snow cat.

We’ve made it through those other winters, so I have no doubt we’ll get through this one.

But there’s a whole thick book of calendar pages waiting to be turned. And already, whether it’s reasonable or not, my heart is yearning forward toward the spring.