Who does not enjoy watching the competition between a hero and a villain? We get to cheer for our hero and look with disdain at the villain. The story ends when the hero is triumphant; the villain is vanquished and sent on his way.
It is that time of year when each day is a struggle between our young fresh faced hero and the old unwelcome villain. It is an annual ritual and this year it is an especially welcome one.
Our hero is the sun as it gains in strength each day and the villain is the winter, a guest who has not only overstayed his welcome, but created a big mess while he was here. His time is up.
Some days belong to the sun and some days we learn we remain under winter’s grip.
It is a struggle, but winter’s victories last for maybe a day while the sun’s victories are measured week by week.
The victories of the sun are subtle. Sunrise occurs a little earlier and sunset a little later. The thermometer does not descend to the below zero depths as easily as it did a few weeks ago. Icicles hang like stalactites from the eaves of every building, momentarily stopped in their transition from snow to water.
Dark-colored areas thaw quickly once the shadows move on. The south side of most anything is a pleasant place, especially if it is out of the wind.
There are many reminders of what kind of a winter this has been. Snow has been piled up and then up again. Stands of corn in fields left from last fall remind us of an incomplete harvest and a winter that arrived earlier than it needed to.
Hilltops that are usually bare have snow cover and the only bare places are the roads that have been plowed and plowed and plowed. Roads have become mere ribbons that breakup a white landscape.
North and west ditches are level full and higher with snowdrifts. A wind from most any direction creates problems as snowdrifts form in a matter of hours.
Entering intersections almost requires coming to a stop. Exposing our front bumper, we advance slowly past snowdrifts, peering cautiously left and right to confirm there is no one approaching.
For all the snow that we have on the ground, the month of March is ahead of us and March blizzards do happen.
Winter may have another laugh on us as we sit still and wait out another storm. Once winter’s hand has taken another swipe at us, we will dig out once again.
So here we are with a mix of guarded optimism and fatalism, knowing that spring is on the way but winter is not over yet.
We wait for our hero the sun to rescue us from this extreme season of snow and cold.
Slowly we will say good-bye to winter as he leaves taking his cold, his snow, and his long nights with him, along with the salt residue that covers our vehicles.
We do not wash our cars this time of year as much as we de-salt them.
It is “Hail to our conquering hero” and in a lasting sign of the sun’s victory over winter, the snow blower, probably a little worse for wear from when winter started, will be parked in a corner where it will sit idle for the next several months.
If we are lucky, maybe even idle for another year until winter appears like Jack Nicholson’s face in the doorway of the movie, The Shining, when he says, “I’m baaa-aaack.”
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.
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