Stafford: Cold weather leads to conflict


At this time of year, when the furnace runs continually and the air dries up, I sometimes wake up in the morning with a little dry particle that seems to be clinging to the inside of one of my nostrils like a bat in a cave.

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When I draw air in, the bat’s wings rub against the edge of the cave, when I exhale, the wings start to move outward but, annoyingly, don’t take flight. If the physics are just right, the bat wing restricts the flow of air more noticeably and I get the feeling the bat wants to fly higher into cave, something I instinctively want to avoid.

If you’re with me so far, you know that the solution, unless you’re an athlete on a playing field and free by social custom to launch a rocket, is to grab a tissue, cover your nose and blast the bat out with a high pressure rush of air.

Well, there are aspects of the news these days that cling to the edge of my brain in the same way as the bat in the cave. I do my honest best to spare you from regular exposure to them, knowing you may be suffering from the same symptoms.

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But I’m going to have to pardon myself this week, because there’s been a little dried up political bat that’s been lodged in place for about 10 days and is driving me nuts. Before I can continue thinking, much less writing, I have to get rid of it, and I don’t know any other way to do it than to write about it.

I promise I won’t belabor this after what follows. It will be one and done. And for those who want to skip it, that’s OK with me. I’ll meet you at the end of the next paragraph.

So here goes:

I’m a stable genius

Tall and stout.

Here is my handle,

I’ve told you ‘bout my spout.

When I get all steamed up

I tweet it out,

And whenever I’m in trouble,

It’s a crooked woman’s fault.

Again, please pardon me. I promise to drop it all now and I thank you for your patience.

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Well, where were we?

Right, the weather.

So … how cold was it?

Because I don’t work outside, it didn’t seem too bad to me until a week ago Thursday.

The temperature was by then hovering above balmy zero, not the 10 below we’d already had.

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Still, as I loaded the drums out of my car into the basement after a rare weeknight gig it felt damp cold – the kind of cold that penetrated my bones and messed with my emotions.

It was as though an Alberta Clipper had joined forces with a Saskatchewan Screamer that had merged with a Polar Vortex generated by a butterfly flapping its wings in Vladimir Putin’s yard, sending a Nor’easter that and would soon send Jack Nicholson up the walk to put a hatchet through our front door.

And that brings us to one more weather-related event you’re not likely to see on the Weather Channel.

Having stayed indoors to avoid the cold, we finally grew tired of the effect saltines and peanut butter had on our conversations and headed to the store. Once we got to the door, we snagged the last cart available, old style, new style, full car or half, which was kind of hard to believe. It’s surprising how many other people in the store were having trouble talking.

But before discovering that, we were privy to a scene in the parking lot that might have been played out in an urban contemporary snow globe.

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A young woman who smiled at us as she passed and was warmly bundled against the wind was speaking and paying attention to her cell phone while another woman was pulling out of a parking spot had paying attention to the children in her car.

The woman with the cellphone kept walking and the woman in the car kept pulling out until the two nearly collided. I wondered for a moment if the sharp intake of my breath kept All-State’s Mayhem Man from appearing.

As the brake light came on, the woman with the cell phone drew her attention away from it long enough to speak some urban contemporary language to the woman in the car, who, pausing for a moment, responded in kind.

Because not all the words were discernible to me — and may not have penetrated the car glass in either direction, I can’t tell you what was said. But I can say the words “pardon me” weren’t a part of the conversation and realized after the fact just how effectively the tone in which words are spoken communicate their intent.

Stay warm, my friends, and keep your noses clean.

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