Weather or not

Having lived in Ashland for close to four decades, I have grown to appreciate each distinct season, for each brings a unique footprint to the valley and showers us with a modest dose of the crème of the season.

Give me summer and I'll break out the tiki torches and fire up the barbecue, though these come at the heels of working in the garden and watering our many hanging baskets of tomatoes and lettuce. I am positive that with a sour economy the town will be will soon be sweet with plantings being bedded, with the majority being vegetables, fruits and herbs in contrast to more affluent days when display gardens ruled.

The early work begins in the spring, when the soil is turned in preparation for the coming crowning glory of meals ripening on the vine. It is a time for planning and patience, for the plants try to pace their sprint to fruition according to the longer, warmer days that lay to delight in the near future.

After the abundance of zucchini, which is so prolific that basketloads are proffered about the neighborhood like leftover Halloween candy, fall flexes its muscles of wind and rashes of rain while the squirrels sequester at least a ton of walnuts in recluse locations that they somehow immediately forget, leading them to dig and search months later for certain treasures marked on a map long forgotten.

Winter is nap time for most of outdoors, except for the most dangerous and unpredictable of carnivores, collectively referred to as the human race. Forget the wolf or the cougar, which came here well before the first Hudson Bay trapper slipped down the mighty Siskiyous in search of pelts. Native Americans who populated our area somehow figured out how to live with the seasons and the animals that abounded. We brought target practice and too many mouths to feed and fell back upon shot and powder for providence. Winter is also a time to test our mettle, with brisk walks down some compromised slippery sidewalks. Those of us who live high on the hill do not even attempt a quick trip to the mail box without considering the dark possibility of slipping, tripping or otherwise ending up like a lump of aspirin while outside the protection of the house.

Yet, there are precautions to be taken that can ameliorate the inherent dangers of fussing about through snow and ice. The first is to turn off your television set and unplug your Internet connection, for both can easily report weather conditions in distant states as being what you witness as your nose presses against the window. I do not even trust the advise of local meteorologists, who when hard pressed, admit to never having seen a meteor. Considering what happened to the dinosaurs, I do not want to hear from someone who talks about high and low pressure, fronts, prevailing winds and drips of rain while a meteor is headed at 30,000 miles per hour toward our precious globe, fully intent on regime change that would result in King Cockroach being the only represent to sit on the throne.

Nope, none of that for me. I have installed a home weather station outside my kitchen window where I can see the numbers if the electricity goes out due to the frozen squirrel that is kept in the freezer at the electrical department. I want to know firsthand what is going down and I want the information streaming to me without commercial interruptions, high school sports scores or more dreadful financial malaise. If I am about to be included in a mass extinction, I want enough time to make the bed, wash the dishes, do a load of laundry and take it looking at Grizzly Peak with a smile, not hiding in the bathtub with a mattress, as if that would do any good.

So, there are your seasons and, weather, comets and meteors permitting, you are free to till the Earth until "¦ was last seen pushing wheelbarrows of cement into his bathroom, which, depending on how you look at it, might mean too many things to mention in polite company.

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