Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Winter - It's Not Just For Breakfast Anymore

Chores, Life Is Good, Winter

Speaking for myself I happen to enjoy winter.  I'm not making that up.  Sure, I don't like all of the excess salt that is spread on the parking lot at the day job.  Or the plow shrapnel that is left at the end of my driveway.  And I certainly don't like brushing-up against my dirty and salty car with office clothes.  But on balance winter and I get along remarkably well.  We're compatible.

First-off there's the social side of winter.  It's curling season.  And Jill and I find ourselves over at the Wauwatosa Curling Club twice a week including a couples league.  It's also indoor archery time.  And after work Braumeister and Smokey Joe and I shoot arrows over at West Town Archery.  This is followed by dinner and talking politics.  Guys night out.  My pals Sid and Lawyer have been lobbying me to go ice drinking.  We'll see about that.

Speaking of nighttime activities - if you can escape to the outskirts of the city and away from all of the light pollution the constellations are awesome in the winter sky.  If you haven't watched the International Space Station traveling across the heavens you absolutely must sign-up for alerts from NASA so you know when to look for it.  Trust me.  It's spectacular.

Projects are also associated with winter.  Odd-numbered years bring the construction of nest boxes in the basement workshop.  This year I'm using a brand-new design and materials.  There is also juice to be made from last year's canned tomatoes.  And sausage-making has been added to the list.

Winter is for the dogs.  The dogs absolutely love the snow that comes with winter.  They will run and play in snow until they're ready to drop.  And drop they do at the end of the day.  There's nothing better than a couple of rambunctious Labs that have finally had the piss and vinegar wrung from them.  After which I can sit with my feet propped-up in front of the woodburner, a refreshing adult beverage at my elbow  while planning this year's garden and placing my seed order.

There's also work to be done on the farm.  There's some equipment maintenance but mostly outdoor field work.  Winter exercise that is remarkably fun.  Hiking or snowshoeing into the woods with a lunch, snacks, water, tools and the dogs.  This is one of my favorite times.  Fresh air and exercise.  Pruning oak trees necessitates some modicum of physical effort (to wield a lopper or a saw) along with an acumen for both the aesthetic and the knot-free saw boards you are attempting to grow.  It's also time for me to dwell-upon the reality that a thinning must be performed before too long and in my minds-eye I visualize which of the genetically inferior will succumb to the chainsaw so that the superior can spread their canopy and put on new growth.

The absolute best part of outdoor chores - for me anyway - is spying wildlife sign.  When there is snow on the ground tracking reveals the whereabouts of wildlife that you might never know were around.  There are deer beds and deer trails to note for deer hunting this fall.  And there are the countless bird nests that are revealed that you will never find during the nesting season.

Like this nest in the crotch of a small oak tree.  Gold finch maybe?

For the dogs it is all about mousing or dining upon some animal carcass they've found and fetching the occasional shed antler.

You can keep your Arizona and Florida experience.  Wisconsin winter has got it all over them.  And there are no biting flies or mosquitoes...

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