I'm a big fan of Mother Nature, but sometimes she drives to the brink of wanting to play winter golf using house-invading shrews as targets on a tee. In February and March she morphs into what can be classified as the persona of Dr. Jekellette and Ms. Hydee with her dark side spawning an insidious phenomenon known as the Ice from Hell.
Now don't get me wrong. Some ice is cool. Ice cream is delectable if not ingested while trudging into the teeth of a gale of sleet. Ice also is a nice addition to an adult beverage sipped in front of a roaring fireplace place while a blizzard rages outside. Popsicles are a treat unless they're being wielded by a deranged proctologist. And let's not forget how the frozen substance enhances ice hockey, ice sledding and ice racing along with its soothing application to areas of the body sprained, maimed, smashed and totaled by participating in the aforementioned sports.
But ice has its treacherous side, too.
I'm not talking about the ice storm resulting from forgetting your significant other's birthday or an anniversary. Nor the mild social stigma that manifests itself through beating the $%!^ out of some miscreant who drops ice down your neck while you're suffering from a hangover.
Oh no, it's the ice Ms. Hydee brews up after laying down a soft blanket of fluffy snow to entice us to cavort in the wilderness like a kid who has just gullet-slammed a half dozen Snickers and washed them down with a six-pack of Pepsi Max. Just as we are in full play mode, the old gal starts having hot flashes and throws a tantrum of rain and wind storms. The area abruptly turns into a mass of overflows and driveways so slick the only way to get to the mail box is to crawl on all fours with cleat-enhanced knee pads and ice axes.
It gets so slick that I receive calls from Slim grumping that when he takes his snake for a walk, it falls down (sounds the ol' boy ain't right, but let's not go there, OK?).
A few weeks ago, it seemed like every time I tried to challenge one of her wet blustery outbursts I could hear her weather-witch cackle in the wind.
First there was a major problem with my mutts and their Haz-Mat bodily function requirements. My sordid cur Howard is the size of a fully dressed-out Harley, but his massive carcass becomes nothing more than a huge sail when he hits runoff-covered ice in the yard. If I hadn't tethered the beast to my pickup's tow hitch during his "outside" time, he would have ended up paw surfin' to Fairbanks.
As for our emergency backup and recognizable-as-a-real-dog toy poodle, Little Bear? The only thing I could do to give her a dignified shot at using the ladies room was put on some crampons and lug her furry butt beneath the deck where she could complete her "delicates" without being launched into the Hawaiian Time Zone. She still hasn't forgiven me for standing there while she did her duties (she has privacy issues), but she'll have to get over it. Her petite growl is nothing compared to what I would have heard if I had suggested that Little Bear would be more comfortable with my bride Jane standing out in the storm watching her pee than me. Don't ask me how I know that, but I think it's a basic survival instinct that comes with the standard nuptial package.
Another dilemma came with Ma Nature's Hydee snit. It was imperative to learn how to get my wife's car ready in the morning without doing a double back flip after coming out of an unsightly pirouette off the deck stairs. I solved the issue when I inadvertently discovered that intense and flamboyant swearing while in mid air would instantaneously melt ice down to the gravel within a six-foot radius of her rig.
The next quandary was how she would navigate to the highway up a rather challenging incline covered with rain-bathed ice so slick that the Earth was rotating under it. The initial resolution was a set of industrial-strength tire chains and strategically placed moderate explosives to clear solidified drifts. The operation amused the neighbors, but somewhat annoyed the authorities who demanded that we utilize a commercial plowing and sanding professional.
It was a boring compromise, but it kept me from sharing a cell with some moron named Celestial Kosmodude who has a habit of smoking his hemp shirts when his stash runs low.
At this writing, Mamma N's behaving herself. Tomorrow moose may be flying by the front window. It's nothing new. The lady always gets touchy when she goes through meteorological changes associated with the approach of spring.
Nick C. Varney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org unless he's in Hawaii again trying to track down Little Bear.
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