Clippings: Spring a pipe dream? Just pretend

The cold, snowy days just keep piling up during this, the seemingly endless winter of 2013-2014. The records keep falling with the temperatures as the meteorologists tell us that this has been one of the coldest winters on record since the late 1800s. Not a record worth celebrating as I fog up the window on the front door of our house wondering — now in mid-March — if I can walk to the mailbox and back without catching frostbite.
So in celebrating the “official” end of winter this week (on paper, anyway), I’ve decided to engage in some activities that will make me think that it’s warmer than it actually is, in order to buoy my spirits for the inevitable thaw. My strategies will include:
• Grilling outdoors. Who cares if the thermometer reads single digits, nothing says “spring” like the sounds and scent of burgers on the grill. So what if that grilling sound is overshadowed with the chattering of my teeth reacting to yet another appearance of the dreaded polar vortex. So what if the food gets cold during the 10-foot walk from the porch to the dining room. In my mind, it will be spring.
• Playing Don Ho LPs. Doesn’t matter if the outdoor scenery is a dreary amalgam of white fields and brown trees. Put on some Hawaiian luau music, close your eyes, and you can imagine yourself basking on sandy beaches, shaded under leafy palms. Add a tropical drink to enhance the effect. Just don’t go outside, or be prepared for a rude awakening.
• Watch the baseball spring training games on television. Your front yard might be covered with snowdrifts, but your favorite Major League Baseball team is dancing on freshly mowed grass or genuine Astroturf somewhere in either Florida or Arizona. You want to be there, but your bank account, job and/or kids’ schooling say otherwise. But you can always dream. For a more realistic ballpark effect, charge yourself $30 for parking in your home garage and another $10 for a lukewarm hotdog. For extra realism, invite a drunk neighbor over for the game and have him/her repeatedly call the centerfielder a bum.
• Sit in your mothballed sports car or boat. Sure, your favorite fishing hole is still covered with eight inches of ice — if you picked July 17 for the Lake Dunmore Ice-Out, you’re probably a winner. But if you’re fortunate enough to have a fishing boat in your garage, take a seat, put on a life preserver and flick a couple of casts with your rod and reel. Of course the only thing you’ll catch is a cold or some frozen fish sticks out of your freezer, but at least you’ve got the spirit.
If you’ve got a “summer car” hibernating somewhere, sit in the driver’s seat and dream a little. Pretend you’re cruising down Route 7 with the wind blowing through your hair (or in my case, scalp). No matter that under current conditions, the car would get stuck in the driveway or disintegrate from the road salt. Besides, using your imagination will save you a lot on gas.
• Message your Facebook friends living in warm, exotic places. Look at their photos of their tanned, happy faces frolicking in emerald surf under azure skies. And swear at them. Only under your breath, mind you, as you don’t want to be flagged under Facebook’s obscenity standards.
• Cook with a lot of spices — curries, peppers, BBQ rubs. If you can’t work up a good sweat outside, at least you’ll be able to do so at the dinner table. Special bonus if you perspire so profusely that you have to fan yourself.
• Dress like the majority of Addison County high schoolers you’ve seen this winter; in other words, dress like it’s summertime. If I had a dollar for every teen I’ve seen this winter entering school sans jacket and sometimes even in shorts, I could fund my own trip to the Bahamas. I include the obvious exemption here for young people from households that can’t afford suitable winter clothing. But I know a lot of these students and they are averse to dressing in layers, and they at least act as if the Arctic weather doesn’t phase them. Perhaps they’ve found a way to subliminally shut out the cold… Or perhaps they’re just a little lazy. Maybe I’ll put the adolescent wardrobe to the test — and land in a warm hospital.
So there you have it, hardy Vermonters: Low-cost tactic for coping with the extended winter. Just forget all about this column during the dog days of summer.

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