Weather Forecast


Column: Mud may be the only thing worse than snow

I’m tired of winter. I’m tired of cold weather. I’m tired of firewood (which is all gone). I’m tired of snow. Snow on the roof, snow on the driveway, snow on the front step, snow on the lakes. Snow that melts. And freezes. And drifts. And comes again. And melts some more. And freezes again.

Snow, it turns out, has many personalities, very few of which are admirable.

Yes, watching it coming down from inside a nice warm window holds some charm. For about two minutes. Then the allure of seeing something blowing sideways heading for your driveway wears off. Snow just isn’t very likeable.

There’s only one thing that is less likeable than snow.

Mud. Mud is worse.

Snow at least has enough manners to melt and disappear once it has been transported into the house on boots, pants, mittens, etc. Mud remains right where you left it. On your boots. On the floor. In your car.

With all this in mind, it seemed time to ring up the complaint department and register my dismay.

I dialed. It rang. Someone answered.

“Hello,” I said, “is this Mother Nature?”

The voice that answered said: “No, this is her answering service.”

That figured. Someone who is responsible for one good thing – sunny days – and so many bad things – including snow and mud – wouldn’t dare answer the phone herself.

So I said: “I’d like to speak to her, please, about some things.”

“Weeeeelllll,” said the voice, “she wants us to handle as much of this as possible. So can I help?”

I heard a phone ring in the background. Then she said, “Just a moment, please, while I put someone on hold.”

At least I wasn’t on hold. Then I realized that I was. The background music? “Too Old to Cut the Mustard any More,” by Guy Lombardo.

Then she was back.

She said, “By the way, how do you like our custom background music?” It is, she said, different for every caller, and she congratulated me on downhill skiing in Norway recently and living to tell about it.

“We know everything,” she said. “You were extremely lucky.”

“Look,” I said, “my car is stuck south of the house in several inches of mud, and the pickup is stuck north of the house in several feet of snow.”

(I’ll bet there aren’t many people around who have that complaint.)

I went on: “Furthermore, one of my overshoes is buried beside the car, and one beside the truck.”

“Oh, dear,” she said.

I guess, as answering services go, she was at least sympathetic.

“Oh, dear,” she quickly replied, “that’s so sad.”

Then she giggled, and I thought I heard her put her hand over the phone and whisper to someone there with her that “this one is kind of funny. Too bad he’s so old.”

Perhaps I just imagined that.

“By the way,” I said, “I have a message for you from the robins and the red-winged blackbirds about the crummy weather you prepared for them up here after their long journey.”

Then I gave her a big, slobbery raspberry, which in print looks something like “ssspppllsssfffftttt!”

“Oh, those ingrates,” she said, adding: “We give them a hundred-mile-an-hour tailwind to get them up there, which kind of spoils them, so we just wanted to remind them that only the tough survive.”

I needed to bring this lovely little conversation to a halt before I said something I shouldn’t. Apparently one doesn’t want to upset people who run the weather.

“By the way,” I said, “thank you for missing me with that tornado in Iowa in 1958. That was kind of you.”

“Oh, think nothing of it. Once in a while we miss.” Then she giggled again.

“What do you mean you missed? What did I do?”

Must have upset them somehow. Maybe I could not do it again, whatever it was.

“Now, don’t you fret. Someday we’ll tell you.”

“In the meantime,” I said, “about this mud and snow?”

“Oh,” she said, seeming a bit surprised. “Maybe we’re telling you now.”