The best job for a dog is that of a sled dog. A sled dog runs, pulls and barks all day long and still gets paid.
Ich liebe Winter
Me encanta el invierno
Anyway I say it – it comes out the same – I love winter.
Now I have been around long enough to know, that outside of snowmobilers, ice fishermen, snowboarders and other curious forms of overachievers, loving winter is distinctly unpopular. Yet I confess – I can’t help myself.
Let me begin by saying – I like change. Change in this context can be stated simply: “I get tired of winter, but I get tired of summer also.” Living in Colorado narrows the options since we only have two seasons: a long, dry, hot summer and a shorter but enthusiastic winter.
I follow by stating Colorado economics. It never rains here. So our summer water for yards, trees, crops, drinking, comes from deep snow drifts in the high mountains. And of course, Colorado is well known for its superior skiing industry – headlined by posh resorts like Aspen and Vail and backed up by a hundred slopes more. Lots of economic benefit flows from these snowy, white paradises and, while I don’t partake, a lot of fun for a lot of people.
“But, this is all interesting but what about your love of winter?” you ask (assuming you’re still awake).
Readily identifiable is my coming to fruition in Montana. Montana is a huge, largely empty land of mountains, lakes, rivers and hardy people. It gets pretty cold there in the winter. I personally have seen it a minus 50°. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the continental US (the lower 48 if you live in Alaska) is minus 69.7° This temperature was recorded about 50 miles from where I grew up and as my father would have said “That’s mighty fresh!”
But does merely living somewhere engender a love of winter? I thought you’d never ask. No – it doesn’t. I have a strong genetic component. My mother’s father, John Carson (né Carlson) was born in Sweden and moved with his family to Minnesota when he was two. My great-grandfather Wirth came from Germany.
But combine need for changing seasons, need for water, profitable business, fun and grandfathers from Sweden and Germany, the picture becomes clear – I was made for winter.
Next – indulging my love for winter.
“New Year’s Resolutions” have never held much interest for me. No, I need problems resolved as much as anyone. It’s just that life has always presented opportunity for improvement without the drama of specific resolve.
That’s why I find myself in a curious position, very late in life, of making a resolution.
Actually it is less resolution and more goal: I am going to walk a 1000 miles this year. Yes, there are three zeroes in the preceding number.
“How are you going to do this Bill?” you ask. Well, at a modest pace, befitting my advanced age, a 1000 miles at 3.5 miles per day. That means I will walk 3.5 miles/day for 285 days. That means that 78% of the year will see me trudging down the road.
78%? Well that sounds doable, you say. Well, feel free to join me – I would like the company.
US – Lived: Visited all 50 states plus DC
Canada – Multiple
Mexico – Lived
Japan – Lived
Hong Kong – Multiple
UK – Multiple
Ireland – 2x
Germany – Multiple
France – Multiple
Italy – 4x
Spain – 3x
Switzerland – Multiple
Denmark – 4x
Netherlands – Multiple
Czechoslovakia – 3x
Lived: More than 3 months continuous
Multiple: Visited more than 10 times
1x, 2x, etc: number of times visited.
The loudest motorcycle is the seldom the fastest.
“I met a traveler from an antique land. . . “
When I read Shelley’s immortal words years ago, I realized I was, even then, “a traveler.” Perhaps not “from an antique land” but someone who yearns to see what is on the other side of the hill.
And it fit, the description “traveler”, because by the time I heard the word “traveler,” I had traveled many times from the nest in Helena to exotica like Seattle, Canada, even Alaska.
But now the time has come to further define “traveler.” As with everything there are flavors. My flavor is “in-between-er.”
I am not opposed to seeing the sites. After all, a trip to London and not seeing Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the National Gallery and a host of others is lunacy. But when on a tour of such sights, walking or on a Hop-On, Hop-Off, I am always interested in what is “in-between” the big sites.
I confess I like seeing how real people live and work in foreign cities.
A road crew patching a street, a police car, the old man ordering in the Fish and Chip shop, matrons streaming into Selfridges, Euston Underground with suits and briefcases, tweedy book stores with tweedy people, workers on the sidewalk outside the pub sharing their day, small (and large) restaurants not in any guidebook, especially those recommended by a hotel clerk or a cop on the street, and on and on. I love seeing things that real people use every day to prosper, relax and survive.
As many know, I love grocery stores. The unfamiliar labels, delis filled with sausages, meat pies and curious salads, the fresh produce, beer, wine, breads – all have me looking and usually buying.
But the people in the store buying food for supper, a special celebration, a national fete, fascinate me. Harried homemakers; husbands on assignment for a special ingredient – evaluating whether this is what Jane wanted for that special dish; teenage toughs – tattoos and funny hairdos; workers looking a quick lunch; grandma with the grand-kids in tow – all searching, looking for the right food and bargains.
This is real life! This is now real people live. This is life “in-between” the monuments.
So let me out, let me walk, let me enjoy the noise, the smells, the hustle and bustle of a city street in ______________ (fill in the blank)
I’ll see you back at the hotel!
It is a strange time in my life.
For the first time (a notion perhaps aided by a failing memory), I find myself subject to circumstance and inevitably.
Choice retreats, only acceptance remains.
Getting old is a curious thing. I really can’t recommend it but if you insist, here are some things I noticed.
First, it creeps up on you, like fog, with little cat feet. At least for me, the last several years have produced no defining moment that screams “You’re old!” But suddenly I am.
Second, when age gets here, it is all around. For example, I used to grocery shop like everyone, after work, on the weekends, before big holidays. Now I can go during the day, mostly looking for something for lunch. At the store, I am surrounded by old people, people with walkers, canes, riding those little carts. Old people, attended by younger women, shop languidly in the rows.
On the way home I see old Buicks driven by old men. I see lots of cars driven by old women with even older men as passengers. There are lots of lovingly restored ’57 Chevys, driven by old men.
Third, the known world is slowly dying. It is interesting to note anecdotally the number of famous people, movie stars, rock stars, politicians, and other worthies that die in their late 60s, early 70s. The paper is full of obituaries and we remember when they were young and vital, making the headlines, the impossible catch, the great discovery, for that song that meant so much.
But, fourth, my world is slowly collapsing around me. Things that were once doable, now present endless challenges. The world contributes much to this – it seems that everywhere we are confronted by crazy people.
But much of the smallness of my world is self-inflicted. I give up too easy. I wait to do something tomorrow or next week, month or year. I concentrate on a small number of things, the study of French and German mostly but often even these are only time fillers.
Even the realization that I am in the fourth quarter or even overtime, it is not enough to move me.
Many manufacturers of food products have been reducing the amount of food product in a package while keeping the size of the package the same. E.g. a package of cookies originally designed for a dozen cookies now contains ten or even eight cookies. Mind you, the package declares the correct net weight, but the package dimensions have stayed the same.
A shake of the package will reveal loose contents. One might even refer to them as “rattle-prods.”
I’m a little surprised that no one has come up with blowing more air into the product or packaging to reduce the rattle. A little hot air would make the packaging consistent with today’s American society.
Je ne suis pas encore fini.