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By Staff | Sep 12, 2014

Daughter Becky and her two wonderful children (our grandchildren with emphasis on grand) visited us this weekend on two ideal September days with bright blue skies, temperatures that were neither warm nor cold, and a slight breeze to make being indoors or out just right.

Late Saturday afternoon Becky commented on how pleasant days such as these make the approaching winter seem more ominous.

As a resident of the Twin Cities with a daily commute to work, Becky, like the rest of us, remembers last winter all too well.

That was the winter when I heard for the first time, the combination of two words, polar and vortex.

Months later, the phrase “polar vortex” makes me shiver.

Last week we were driving home on Interstate 90 in southeast Minnesota on another beautiful September day and once past Rochester, Minn., I remembered this same part of the road last March when the Department of Transportation was doing its best to keep the road open.

From the size of the snow drifts, it was getting to be a struggle with parts of the road still snow covered.

That was when we got stuck in our own driveway and where the car sat for more than a day until we worked to free it for the last hundred feet to the garage.

During those days in Rochester, the car had gotten snowed in at a motel parking lot and a kind person helped me free it.

I was standing on packed snow on a slight slope in the parking lot when all of a sudden my feet went out from under me and I crashed to the parking lot surface.

I was looking up at the sky before I could even react.

Fortunately, I fell straight down landing on my ample, well-padded posterior. If I had fallen left or right, I could have had an arm in cast for several weeks or worse.

I knew what the problem was. It was my smooth soled shoes that had no grip at all.

A few weeks ago, I was at a local farm supply store and walking past a shelf of items on closeout (my favorite part of the store), there were several boxes of work boots.

The price had been marked down from $105 to $71. That was a good start and got my attention.

Next I looked for my size, size 10, the most common size in men’s shoes. That is what they sell the most of and what they can run out of first, leaving smaller, larger, and wider sizes unsold.

There it was – one box that said size 10.

I opened the box to check the tread on the soles.

Oh, my gosh, I was looking at treads worthy of an ATV. Four-wheel drive trucks lust for treads like these.

I didn’t even try them on, they were size 10; what else did I need to know?

I put the box under my arm and tried to remember what it was I came into the farm supply store in the first place.

I put them on when we left for our week long vacation when there would be much driving and some walking to break them in.

By the second day, I had forgotten I was wearing new shoes. They were that comfortable.

I am back to wearing my smooth soled shoes for now until the first snow falls.

Then, like a car that changes over to snow tires for the winter, I will be wearing my non-skid, deep tread, bargain at any price, meant for traction action, suitable for any time of the year, boots equipped with aggressive soles.

No namby-pamby, slippery-when-wet, smooth-soled shoes for me.

I wonder if the farm supply store has anything that can help me deal with a polar vortex?

It wouldn’t even have to be on closeout.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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