Is it still winter?

It's gonna be a longggg springtime. And what will the birdies do then- the poor things? They'll fly to the sky just to keep their feet dry And tuck their heads under their wings, the poor things. It's gonna be a longggg summer. And what will the birdies do then, the poor things? They'll fly to the pool just to keep themselves cool. And tuck their heads under their wings, the poor things. It's gonna be a longggg autumn. And what will the birdies do then, the poor things? They'll fly to the trees, just to sit in the breeze.
And tuck their heads under their wings, the poor things. It's gonna be a longggg winter. And what will the birdies do then, the poor things? They'll fly to the barn, just to keep themselves warm. And tuck their heads under their wings, the poor things.

It’s a silly camp song. The way we sung it at camp, the song leader would run around a table wile holding the note for “long” during he spring verse, then run around several tables during the summer verse, holding the not even longer. On the autumn verse, the leader would run around the dining room and for the winter verse the leader would go outside and run all the way around the dining hall, sneaking breaths from time to time, but making it appear as if the note had been held for the entire time.

I thought of that song when I heard the snow plow go by on Sheridan Lake Road at 4:15 this morning. We don’t have a lot of snow and it’s supposed to get up to around 40 degrees today, so it might melt, but the winter weather advisory predicts snowfall to continue through the day and overnight with totals reaching 3 to 5 inches by noon tomorrow.

It's gonna be a longggg winter.

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s spring in South Dakota. The equinox occurred on March 20 just as predicted. The days are getting longer. We switched to daylight savings time. A year ago, I was paddling in the lake by St. Patrick’s Day.

This year the St. Patrick’s day parade was cancelled due to a blizzard. The Douglas High School Early Bird track meet on March 29 was cancelled. The West River Invite last Tuesday was cancelled.

One of our favorite phrases around here has become, “I hear that next week it’s going to be in the 50’s.”

Of course, this type of weather isn’t all that unusual in South Dakota. Remember the Mother’s Day Blizzard back in 2015, when we had 20 inches of snow and strong winds? We were just learning to use Twitter, but we got #mayblizzard to trend.

And the truth is that the winter hasn’t been all that long. We’ve had a few snowstorms, but we’ve had some warm weather and breaks between the blizzards. There were days when the temperatures reached into the ’60’s between some of the storms.

And the snow does have the added benefit of covering up the undone yard work. And I did buy a new snowblower this year to replace the one that served 23 winters before being tired enough to end up on the church rummage sale. And I’ve been complaining about my sedentary lifestyle. Shoveling snow does get me outside and engaged in a bit of physical activity.

All in all it isn’t a bad tradeoff for living in a place where we don’t have hurricanes and we don’t have many tornadoes and the flooding has been controlled and pretty predictable since 1972 and folks around here can’t remember the last earthquake and we like to have something to complain about which makes winter as good a topic as excessively long run-on sentences.

Still, I’m a little bit tired of waking up to new snowfall in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for the moisture. Any moisture is good for the forest. We need moisture to restore the land. The Legion Lake fire burned 54,000 acres in December. We had a truly extraordinary fire season in 2017. We don’t need another one like that. Unfortunately, while the moisture is essential for the trees, a wet spring increases the grass growth and if it turns try at the end of the summer, the fuel load can be very high, leading to more fires.

So when the snow quits we can complain about the smoke and when the smoke clears we can complain about the snow. It’s nice to live in a place where the seasons change and so does the conversation at the coffee shop.

My favorite topic these days, in part because I’m weary of wether talk, has been to suggest a new motto for our state. Our official state motto, “Under God the people rule,” isn’t bad, but we don’t put it on our license plates. They say “Great Faces, Great Places.” I pay attention to the words on the license plates even though thee is no way to read those words from a license plate if you are following at a safe distance. Back in 1985, we moved from North Dakota to Idaho and I had to trade my “Peace Garden State” plates for “Famous Potatoes.” Notice that it doesn’t say “Good Potatoes,” or “Big Potatoes,” or “Delicious Potatoes” - just “Famous Potatoes.” At least our children learned to spell potato correctly despite incorrect instruction from the then Vice President who added an e at the end.

Anyway here are a couple of suggestions for South Dakota state motto. Inspired by the weather, how about “All Four Seasons Every Day”? I’m thinking that “God made no mountain that we can’t improve by carving it” would work at least for the Western end of the state. I suppose “We hunt and eat our state bird” is a bit crass even though it is true. I’m not sure we want to advertise, “The Cheapest Place to Buy a Senator,” or “You don’t have to leave America to live in a one-party state.”

On second thought, perhaps it would be best to just talk about the weather.

It's gonna be a longggg winter.

Copyright (c) 2018 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!