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SideLines: Let’s look at the bright side of winter

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014 2:00 a.m. CDT

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I’ve had enough of winter. Instead of letting it get me down, though, I’m going to look on the bright side and extol its virtues.

• Winter gives us something to talk about with strangers and acquaintances you haven’t seen in a long time. It gives us something to complain about other than spouses, politics or the Bears.

• Shoveling snow and scraping ice are a great way to get exercise, and cost a lot less than going to a gym.

• Winter is great for tracking your pets. A neighbor’s dog got out of the house and wouldn’t come back. His owner found him by following the paw prints in the snow.

• This winter in particular, you don’t have to worry too much about locking your doors at night. It’s just too darn miserable to be outside breaking into houses or cars. It’s just as cold for the sinners as it is for the saints, and all of us in between.

• Kids are racking up snow days from school. I’m not going to be the one to remind them they’ll have to make them up in June, when it’s hot and humid.

• Winter is a great chance for parents to spend time with children who are stuck at home because they can’t go anywhere. Hopefully, that’s a good thing.

• Think of all the money we’re saving by not going to restaurants or movies or other fun places that require leaving the house. That’s good, because we’re probably going to need that money to pay our heating bills.

• For those who love the great outdoors, this winter has been a golden opportunity for snowball fights, building snowmen, or skiing and sledding. I’ve been told this is the best winter in several years for ice fishing and even, as I did recently, for walking over frozen lakes and ponds, if you are so inclined.

• Winter is a good chance to catch up on your reading. Since the first of the year, I’m averaging three books a week. Thank God – and Benjamin Franklin – for library cards.

• Those who make their living plowing snow no longer have to worry about where their kids will go to college. They can also finally go on that vacation to Hawaii and maybe even retire early.

• Women have been able to give their wardrobes a workout. Rather than just wearing one blouse or sweater, they can wear three at a time without anyone thinking anything of it. If that isn’t enough, think of all the compliments they’ll get this spring from unsuspecting men on how much slimmer they look when they go back to just one layer.

• Speaking of spring, can you imagine the party there’s going to be when it finally comes? It’s going to make the 1999 New Year’s Eve bash look like a Tuesday night in a monastery.

There’s nothing you can do about the bad weather, so you might as well make fun of it.

It’s the Great American Way. I think that’s in the Bill of Rights, which I plan to read right after I’m done with “They Used to Call me Snow White, but I Drifted” by Gina Barreca, “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter and “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole (possibly the funniest novel I’ve ever read). Since it’s Black History Month, I may also reread “I was Right on Time” by Buck O’Neil and “A Knock at Midnight, the collected speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.”

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