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  • Saturday, February 28, 2009

    Winter's Toll

    What Is It ?
    town fever
    .. The neighbors are becoming a bit too familiar. They are going to restrict my libations for saying it.
    .. We haven't had much of a winter yet. The snow is low and the temperatures aren't. Visitation to Yellowstone National Park is sparse, (down about 20%,) and visitors to the neighborhood don't stay too long, (bless 'em all.)
    .. Fishing the Madison River between the lakes has been better than it usually is most winters. Catching has been even better. And, it's getting to be time to think of staying out of the water and letting the next generation have a chance.
    .. It's not been a winter, so far, that restricts one to the couch. It's not been a winter that wears out the remote. It's not been a winter that demands penguin behavior or anything close. It's been a winter where the loaders are parked too much to earn their keep.
    .. So far it's been pleasant. More sun that in recent memory. Sunsets as they used to be. Sweater and shirtsleeve days outnumber the parka parades. Cars start with little trouble, and don't need to be plugged in very often. What's not to like?
    .. The 'cold' has come and gone in a day or two. The mush in the streets is frequent - given the sun and days in the 20' and 30's, (and even 40's.) Puddles of water spread and get icy just after sundown. Last night was a bit on the chilly side, (-33,) but today was still and very sunny.
    .. Yet, as nice as it's been, and as good as this town is in the winter, -- winter is still a mental constraint. There's no swimming in the rivers. There's no tubing to be done in skimpy clothing. A walk is not just a walk. And, perhaps the most mental of all for us; we can't just dash to the river for a couple of hours of sport.
    .. There are folks up here who can ski everyday and call it glorious: we can't. There are folks up here who can cruise the 700+ miles of groomed national forest trails every day and call it wonderful: we can't.
    .. We do cruise the forest trails a few times each winter. We do ski a bit more often. But it's the little things that begin to wear.
    .. Constantly scraping the windshield, parking in the sun, avoiding the icy spots, walking in the street, hauling wood, shoveling snow, adjusting the thermostat, keeping the tires at the correct pressure, opening the frozen fuel cap door, dodging falling cornices from overhanging roofs, perpetually sweeping and vacuuming the frozen debris from the floor, are constant and continual chores and habits. It's all just a list of small nuisances, but they do add up.
    .. Winter shoes and pac boots take a chunk of time out of the day as they are donned and removed. An extra layer and a heavier coat do the same. It just slows a body down.
    .. We don't just 'go to the store.' We plan, prepare, dress and then go. Most of the neighbors walk around town in the winter. It's only the rich and inconsiderate, and visitors, that drive from block to block. Funny; that takes just as long.
    .. The pace is slowed by the conditions and it's not all together unpleasant. But the summer folks are gone, (a mixed blessing,) and the faces in the pubs are fewer and more than familiar. The Chamber of Commerce population figures are a maximum summer number, not a year-round population number.
    .. The post office, grocery store, hardware store, gas station, library, etc. all hold the prospect of another encounter with the same folks. "I'm following you" is a common greeting amongst neighbors in the winter. It's not a coincidence - it's an inevitability.
    .. It's not a real cabin fever - it's more a town fever. As nice as our town is - the confining conditions begin to become apparent by this time of the year.
    .. We could leave, (many do,) - but we won't. And, as familiar as they are - the remaining folks are still our neighbors. And as much of a nuisance as it is; Winter in West Yellowstone is still better than Winter in 100,000 other places. And, of course it's the neighbors that make it so.
    .. We just wish the snow was a bit less mammaform.