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MEEKER | Tall tales of the winter-that-was abound this time of year. It is the time that people of all ages seem to dredge up their old stories. The mention of “Fool’s Spring” describing the mild temperatures and the long days filled with sunshine brings to mind all of the conversations about the weather I have had over the years here.
“Two feet of snow? That is nothing.”
“Twenty below last night? Heck, there have been times out here where it has been 40 below!”
“Minus 15? You aint seen nuthin’ yet, try -60.”
Some newcomers pitch in with comments of their own. One year, my new neighbor told me the problem he was having convincing his family to stay after moving to town.
“My family moved with me in the fall and planned to stay the rest of the year, but they kept running into people who told them they should appreciate these warm temperatures. Heck, 10 degrees above zero isn’t tropical, you know.”
Make a casual comment about the weather here and one soon finds out it can be a serious subject. People have strong opinions and continue to tell bigger and better stories about the time they faced ole Mother Nature down. We live in “far-below” country — the area that historically has below zero temperatures all winter long.
If you live upriver (east of Meeker) temperatures during the “Fool’s Spring” season qualified for far-far-below status. That is, they used to experience much colder winters and blizzards. One of the first questions from visitors considering taking up residence here is, “How cold is it in the winter, really?” The addition of that last word indicates that people have been regaling them with our winter weather version of fish tales.
The second question following that is usually, “What do you do here all winter long?” It hasn’t occurred to them that spending time outdoors (fishing, hunting, hiking, or snowmobiling) is how many local folks spend their time.
According to the old-timers still here, we do get a few far-below zero days, but none of them rival the old days. Early winter, as well as early spring, meant the accumulation of a couple of feet of snow piled up in the middle of the streets and stretches of far-far below temperatures. The annual cabin fever that sets in around this time of year seems not to be as prevalent this year, as getting outdoors has been everyone’s priority during the COVID-19 crisis.
This has been a year that local snowmobilers and cross-country have not gotten their fill yet. Ah, for the good ‘ole days.
By DOLLY VISCARDI – Special to the Herald Times