Slightly Off Center

Cold will bring us together

By Dennis Hinkamp

Utah winters generally last November through May, adjourning for a frenetic season of road construction. It’s that time of year when we alternately curse and exalt the four-letter words, snow and cold. I’ve been a winter hater for most of my 39 years in the state. I obviously don’t hate it enough to move, but I do disdain it just enough to be grouchy and give unsolicited advice.

  1. Fog is real: I drove with white knuckles last week at 60 mph while others whizzed by at 85 mph. This is not a contest. There are metal monsters in the fog and you will not be able to stop in time to avoid them.
  2. Share your snow blower: I no longer want to risk the remaining miles left on my back’s warranty by shoveling extra snow, but it’s relatively easy to be generous with a little extra gas in your snow blower. If you are the first one out in the morning, it is even a little fun to just keep going up the block. Maybe when I retire, I will get a small front-end loader so I can be truly magnanimous.
  3. Don’t share your ice: I know that not everyone is fortunate enough to have a garage or covered parking, but you probably do own a broom and a step stool. Take that 13 inches of ice and snow off your car roof before you drive so that it does not blow off onto the people behind you or blind you if you have to make an emergency stop because the person in front of you didn’t do the same thing I am describing.
  4. Four wheel drive is not your superpower: I was never a great winter driver, but I became a worse one the day after I bought my first four-wheel drive vehicle. Four-wheel drive does not help you stop faster on ice and does not give you ninja seeing power when driving through whiteouts.
  5. You can have too many parties: As a lifelong introvert I really have to meter out my merriment. One or two seasonal parties is great, but you don’t have to throw a separate one for every subset of your friends or colleagues. Save some fun for the dead weeks in March and August.
  6. Some people are sad, and some people have SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder): Be kind to those around you in winter. The short days and long nights really can cause people to be depressed. I do not have SAD, I am just cranky by nature across all seasons.
  7. Happily, the sun is coming back: It seems like daylight ended less than two months ago. It is less than three months before it starts again unless our legislature wisely rescinds the whole mess.
  8. Tire chains: I have carried around tire chains for 45 years in 10 different vehicles and only used them once. That one time I did actually need to use them I wished I had practiced the attachment procedure ahead of time. I still haven’t changed this behavior, but I still should.

Dennis Hinkamp wishes you all a warm and wonderful rest of winter.

This article was originally published on December 30, 2019.