How many ways can you say it’s going to be a cold winter? The Farmer’s Almanac outdid itself in coming up with phrases to adequately prepare people in almost every corner of the U.S. for a humdinger of a season, one that deserves the name winter.

The phrase emblazoned over Wyoming on the Farmer’s Almanac 2017 map warns of “freezing cold.” How is that different from the “numbing cold” predicted for the Great Lakes or the “ice cold” headed to New England? I’m sure I don’t know, even though I’m a connoisseur of cold. I can guess the actual temperature outside accurately down to minus 30. After that, it’s all a blur of frozen nasal passages and earlobes that throb from having metal earring loops painfully conducting the climate to the wearer.

The Almanac saved its most colorful predictions for the south with Texas looking forward to “chilled to the bone cold” and the southeast to “penetrating cold.”

But, as any reader of the Dictionary of American Regional English could tell them, the Farmer’s Almanac writers could have upped their game greatly with distinctions ranging from the Alaskan gem “colder than a brass toilet seat in the Yukon” to a Boston favorite “as cold as Finnegan’s feet the day they buried him.”

One phrase especially popular in our area has a nice historical ring to it – “… hasn’t been this cold since eighteen-hundred-and-froze-to-death.” I remember that year well. The snowdrifts were almost as high, frozen and dark from road dirt as this year.

The one resident of our house in love with snowdrifts is the golden retriever Lucy. She will spend hours leaping up and down on the semi-permanent six-foot drift in the front yard imitating a hyped up bunny rabbit. Just last week her months of steady, obsessive digging finally paid off when she unearthed the frosty carcass of a mostly-destroyed tennis ball from seasons past. She promptly darted into the house and dumped the frozen thing into my lap as I sat in a flannel nightgown drinking the magical first cup of coffee of the morning. I was as happy about that gift as our daughter was when the cat similarly found a frozen mouse carcass to show off to her.

What I love about the snow cover is that a multitude of dog leavings just don’t exist any more. Snow has transformed the land into a smooth, white surface that any princess would be proud to walk upon. Then comes that dreaded day in April when the snow melts and the ground looks like someone dumped a latrine upside down as a prank. It’s important to run outside and dispose of the dog droppings immediately, while they are still frozen hard as a rock. Waiting a few days until the spring sun melts them into soggy smears is not a good idea. This is no time for procrastination.

While we wait for the sun to come up tomorrow, one sure sign of spring arrived over the weekend; the Girl Scout cookie sale has begun. Can the American Cancer Society Daffodil Days be far behind? Just remember, when there are daffodils, its time to take a shovel and make the front yard safe for viewing once again.

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