CSotD: Winter’s Tales

Mort Gerberg offers this cheerful, well-timed reminder.

I’ve got to admit that we’ve done all right so far. We’re far enough north not to be as shocked and unprepared as those who have had a worse winter than usual and far enough inland to miss the nor’easters that have plastered the New England coast.

Fact is, we’ve had the kind of winter that makes us nervous for the farmers, who aren’t getting as much moisture as usual and for the maple syrup folks, who will need cold nights in a few weeks to counter warm days and make the sap flow.

These may not be the sort of things keeping you up at night this year, and if it provides any comfort, you should know that the closer I get to my fourscore years, the less I enjoy any winter at all.

And I’d also point out that the fact that February will be one day longer than usual this year is a calendar formality and will not actually stretch the season any farther.

Rhymes With Orange (KFS) reminds us of one of the joys of the season, which is why it’s a good idea to have some kind of shovel in your car, preferably one that will cut through concrete, since the plows not only move but compact the snow.

It’s not so bad when the plows come through at night while you’re home, but it is, to use a homely but expressive phrase, a stone bummer when you come home from a long day of work and find your driveway blocked.

Though it reminds me of a very pleasant memory, because for most of the winter of 2006-07, I thought I was very lucky that my plowman was getting to my farmhouse after, rather than before, the town plow. I’d come home at night dreading the final 50 yards and invariably find that, by golly, the road was plowed but my drive was open!

Then one night I happened to arrive at the right moment to discover that my neighbor across the street, a logger who ran a sawmill next to his house, had been driving his front loader down to clear the snowbank from his drive and then going across the street to dig out mine.

We’d never met, though we’d waved once or twice.

Another reason I miss living in Maine.

Some weeks ago, Jimmy Johnson mentioned in the comments here that, while he’s in the Deep South, he often depicts Arlo and Janis in waist-deep snow to make them seem less geographically bound. Baby Blues (AMS) has also shown the kids in snow, but today pins the strip down as the work of Rick Kirkman (Arizona) and Jerry Scott (California).

And, yes, I know both states have mountains where it snows regularly. But the people in those parts do not know the joys of frozen snot.

Assuming such a thing exists.

Jack London wrote of Alaska being so cold that, if you spit, it would freeze before it hit the ground. London was in the Klondike less than a year; I lived in a place for a dozen years where it regularly hit minus-40 (F or C, take your pick) and, having read London, I even tried to make it happen, but it didn’t.

Not sure how long it would take snot to freeze, but I suspect your nose would fall off first.

Wiley Miller lived for several years on the coast of Maine, so I’m sure this Non Sequitur (AMS) is accurate.

No, really. Maine is full of characters like Captain Eddy, just as I’m sure Alaska is full of similar types who would tell a greenhorn from California that when it gets real cold, your spit will freeze before it hits the ground.

Now let me tell you about the jackalopes we used to hunt when I lived in Colorado …

I like, by the way, that Wiley sets his Mainer strips in a diner rather than a bar, and I’m pretty sure I’ve driven by the place that served as his model. But diners are a different sort of gathering place than a bar, at least in this country.

In Britain, pubs may have become nearly sedate, since a number of Britons are taking “Dry January” seriously. Apparently, however, that number doesn’t include Kipper Williams.

Going dry for a month isn’t a bad idea, though telling people you’re doing it may be. I went dry for the last several months of my marriage, but I didn’t tell anyone. I just drank tonic-and-lime and didn’t put my business in the street.

I didn’t feel a need to be smug, which was good, since at the time I had little to be smug about.

Speaking of divorce — and let me here concede that lousy weather and divorce surely make for a jolly post — I got a laugh out of this Mr. Boffo, mostly because we were more in the Top 50 Percent of the Top 80 Percent.

We still argued over money because that happens, but we didn’t have a pre-nup because we wouldn’t have gone into it if we thought we’d need to get out of it.

Fitzgerald was right: The rich are different.

I see a lot of cartoons by very bitter divorced folks, and, since male cartoonists still greatly outnumber female cartoonists, their POV tends to dominate the topic. But in most cases, while I don’t recoil, neither do I laugh.

John Callahan got a lot of solid, dark laughs out of being quadriplegic, but I haven’t met many cartoonists who can wring much humor out of being divorced.

Except for the late Jerry Bittle, who was not divorced himself but clearly was a damn good listener.

Jerry and I became e-mail pals after I wrote him prior to the launch of Shirley & Son, which is still available at GoComics, because, as a divorced dad, I didn’t want to see another guy played as a stereotypical deadbeat.

But he got it right: Both parents were lost and clueless in their own ways, but little Louis floated through it, because, for all that his parents did to each other, they did their best to keep him out of the mire.

I miss the strip, but not nearly as much as I miss Jerry.

6 thoughts on “CSotD: Winter’s Tales

  1. Mike, a friend of mine in Colorado tole me: ‘sadly, all the jackalopes that were here are dead. They froze their assets off last month’. Just another winter tail.

    1. Was driving through Wyoming in my yout’ with three friends and stopped at a diner with a jackalope head over the cash register. We joked back and forth with the proprietor until we realized one of our buddies was taking it all seriously. Then the fun began.

  2. On a quick visit to Portland, Maine, I found a great diner. I pretended to be a regular for a few days.

  3. Reminds of another time The Simpsons jumped the shark by having Kirk and Luanne get divorced.
    Didn’t help that Kirk was played off as the pathetic loser dad while Luanne went on to date one of the American Gladiators.

    It was a different time…

    1. Oh, and I find that alcohol drinkers tend to be snobbier than non-drinkers, but that’s just me.

      At least we can all agree that smokers are the worst. Whether it’s tobacco or not…

  4. I am doing dry January. Never again. The alcohol free beers are now pretty good, but the month is too long and there are too many fun events to drink at in the New Zealand summer.

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