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Daily Subscription Msg 1 Posted: 02:24 PM 08/08/08 (CST)
Speaking winter

So three guys walk into the local café at 6:15 a.m. and take over a booth. The first guys sez, "I had four below last night" to which the second replies, "Me too."

Now we all know the third fellow can't say, me three, so to keep the conversation from getting freezer burned he tosses out, "Anybody know what the wind chill is?"

Just like learning to walk on a frozen, ice-covered sidewalk, we northerners learn the "winter speak." Try saying the words, snow flurries, 10 times fast out loud on the way to the mailbox. After about the sixth attempt at the two words your mouth is actually imitating the very weather condition you're trying to describe. So we leave those weather phrases to the experts. The climatologists, the meteorologists and the nightly news weather folks on the TV.

"Alberta clippers" and "sub arctic air" are for the showman in the snow man's world. Café people like myself usually run with "It's colder than a......" and I'll let you finish that as you see fit.

With our winter furred ear flapped caps we sometimes mis-hear the winter speak.

By polar disorder, for example. Bipolar disorder is an illness that causes extreme mood changes that alternate between manic episodes of abnormally high energy and the extreme lows of depression. Very serious.

Now on the other choppered hand is "polar disorder," not serious, almost the same symptoms however, but not to be confused with the bipolar.

"Polar disorder" is for men my age. I'm too old to get caught throwing snowballs. I mean think of four 50 year old guys Sunday after church in the parking lot having a snowball fight. The minister would look out the window and with raised hands praying loudly...."Lord, lift this scourge of cabin fever that afflicts our elders."

Now I'm not inferring in any way that I'm old man winter either. Proof of this fact is that I'm not old enough to use in café conversation, "My sciatica is acting up."

I'm not sure what a sciatica is, but as I age I'll work it into some cold, numb hand-rubbing chats. Maybe a foot by the fire reminiscing of the vacation I once thought about taking in Cancun. It's not good breakfast conversation anyway to mention maladies you're not fully up on.

With your eggs and coffee it's easier to go over jumper cables, the wood pile and whose turn is it to buy the minnows.

"Wally, you got the tip? No, I said tip, not tip-ups. Why would I give the waitress a tip up, you abominable snowman." Man, if he wears his insulated cap any tighter over those cotton stuffed ears of his, I'm gonna see if they need the old Norwegian for a pot of lutefisk. I mean he smells a little like frozen fish.

Open leads, pressure ridges, snow banks, snowshoes, choppers, frost, minus, these are but a few of the winter speaks one can work in a paragraph or too. Then to end winter speak, just point at your semi-frozen friend and say firmly, but not too cold hearted, "Ah, pardon me, but the drip at the end of your nose is frozen. Just thought you ought to know."

So like icicles, even small ones, winter speak has an end, it's about six months from now. We bundle up, pay up and trudge out to the parking lot.

Okay, who threw that??????

--The trout whisperer

Listen to his stories which embrace the woods and waters of northern Minnesota on the oral CD: "Outdoor Adventures - Living the Dream in God's Country"

now for sale at justnorth.com

and amazon.com.
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