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Michael Perry: An early reminder that snow melts, but memory remains

Michael Perry: An early reminder that snow melts, but memory remains

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Home for a weekend visit from college, our daughter parked her car in the yard prior to the first snow of the season.

The next morning she was gone, leaving a green rectangle on a slate of white.

There was the temptation to spin something metaphorically profound or tear-jerky from the image, but in fact she had taken her stuttering vehicle to a mechanic, and based on the phone call I just received, my sentimentality will be tempered by my checkbook.

To be fair, the scholar in question holds down a job and contributes a pre-agreed and not insignificant percentage of her own costs of living, tuition and automotive expenses, so I will count my blessings as I balance the checkbook.

Fifty-six trips around the sun and yet last night when I stepped out beneath the yard light and saw that the snow was gonna stick, I felt the usual surprise.

Autumn buffers us with leaves that change color over time, then drop to the ground in stages. Temperatures moderate, but you still get that odd hot day, and plenty of shirt sleeves.

And then one day it snows like this and winter says, I’m serious.

That is not to say winter is here to stay. It’s likely things will melt back to brown.

But that first white blanket is nature’s way of announcing, “Last chance to get them garden hoses in or there’s a chance you won’t see them ‘til May. Also, what’s the status of the snow plow?”

In another sign it’s time to stop pretending we’re not seasonally in for it, yesterday I stepped out of the office and embarked on an inadvertent ski trip.

I was wearing my ancient foam rubber clogs, which are perfect for those quick trips between the house and the garage room where I work, but were long ago worn treadless.

I made it to the bottom of the hill without crashing, but to conjure the appropriate mental image, picture an aging slalom racer who has been not so much hitting the slopes as the doughnuts and paddles the air like he’s on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier trying to land the entire Blue Angels team simultaneously from different directions while riding a surfboard. And as he is not wearing goggles, you can see his very wide eyes.

In light of my low-end athleticism and high-end health insurance deductible, I went straight to the porch, dug out a pair of ice cleats, and mounted them on the clogs, where they will remain until the tulips bloom.

Some will mock, but in the pursuit of balancing ease and utility, I maintain the combo of cleats and clogs is pretty much apex tech.

Sunday evening I drove my daughter to pick up her car, now repaired. We transferred her snowboard, clean laundry, and some home cooking from my vehicle to hers. Then I hugged her and followed her back to the highway where her taillights merged with all the others and curved out of sight.

There’s a shot the snow will be gone by midweek, but out the window right now the green rectangle is still sharp.

Sometimes you don’t have to work a metaphor. You just feel it.

An original “Roughneck Grace” column exclusive to the Wisconsin State Journal. Audio versions may air on “Tent Show Radio” ( Read more from Michael Perry at


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