The time is now preceded by s

Harry Drabik

It is destiny. It was bound to happen. One morning now appeared with S leading the way. Snow was on the ground. For a change I was almost ready for it. Firewood was under cover, yard areas tidy, trash hauled away, and a brush pile ready for the torch when there’s enough white covering the ground. I was ready, but the thought of the next nine months full of frozen slippery going is enough to make my confident preparations for winter seem almost delusional. Firewood in the shed still needs to be hauled inside and on too many days that will mean shoveling the pathway from shed to house. This did not used to concern me as much, but with a shoulder going bad I’ve found one-armed shoveling rather daunting; as much so as one-armed canoe paddling. Even a modest chop will balk the one-armed canoeist. As for shoveling, that turns more into snow pushing which is good until the pusher hits an unseen obstruction and stops like a train wreck.

The other meaning of snow when a person lives will up the shore from the Twin Ports is the fact that doctor appointments turn into a form of roulette. Will I win or lose? Will weather cooperate or do I leave a day early or stay a night over rather than deal with four hours of slip-slide to or from my goal? As a person gets older they become more familiar with the amazingly predictable décor of clinics and hospitals. When I was a child our family practitioner, Dr. Zygmunt (whom all called Ziggy) Yagazynnski (a name that refuses to sound Irish, Arab, or Han) came to the house to treat and torture. No doctor at St. Luke’s, and I’m sure the same applies to St. Mary’s, will drive to Hovland. They all insist I make the trip to see them and enjoy the special form of interior decoration their corridors and waiting rooms display, stamped out like machine made pancakes or frozen waffles. It does not take a great many snowflakes to turn a drive to the Twin Ports into an outer space adventure with hostile elements raging outside the bow of Starship Chevrolet.

When I first heard of them the objections to dumping urban or parking lot snow directly into Lake Superior or a river were sensible complaints because there were contaminants other than sand in the mix. Sand might not be too bad (though it can choke out living things) but salt and oil residue are not wanted in clean water. But as we’ve become more accustomed to the value of complaint as an attention getting tool for use by those offended by accomplishment and eager to pick a fight with snowplows operating at night that disturb their sleep. Suggesting to these earnest souls that scheduling daytime snow events was not always possible made no dent in their opposition that others of the objection persuasion used to complain when roadside vegetation that shaded the highway surface was cut back to the easement. They were horrified by “defacement” that let the sunshine in and at times allowed the wind to partly scour the road surface. You just never know what people will fuss about now that complaining is revealed as the one thing anyone can do at no risk of accomplishment. I’m not sure what to think of a form of populism that has us take seriously the fussing of those who think a major artery like Highway 61 should be treated like a rustic scenic byway. Maybe behind their unctuous piousness there is method because they own oil company stocks and will benefit if the two hour drive to the Twin Ports and add an extra hour and burn a third more fuel.

A reader recently sent me a piece from another writer about what they called Cry Bullies. I believe the term fits OK with what I just expressed. A cry bully will weep for justice so long as it discomforts others and causes us to strew the way of the wailing Princess of Prince with rose petals as we smooth the path into a perpetually gentle slope. When I was a canoe guide I was often perplexed by people expressing the utmost love of Canoe Country Wilderness except for rain and mosquitoes. I wonder what would be left of an ecosystem if we took away one part such as the mosquito. What else would go as a result? I could have gone into that with them but a five day canoe trip required us to keep moving I didn’t see the use of those days spent discussing. I could have commiserated with them about bugs so their sorrow was honored, but what difference would it make or what good would that do? The best I ever found was to say “Yep, mosquitoes are pests but we can handle them so let’s get going.” That worked and people had a good time including dealing with pests.

I wonder if a cry bully isn’t simply looking for an easier, softer way where none exists. If only this or that were so. It’s not and if you’d like to see how useless some pondering can be I turn you to consider the cause of the Moderate Nazi. We won’t take the snap route that all Nazis are bad. What might a Moderate Nazi be? Is it someone who can’t get out of a tyranny on their power alone? Is it one who waits for the Radical Nazis to do the dirty work? Is the Moderate Nazi the one who will graciously kill only Jewish males and saves the females for breeding? Is it the one who as the Turks did to the Armenians who didn’t like biased rule and marched them in the millions into a wasteland where thirst, starvation, and exposure expressed the will of the Turkish Almighty? Sometimes the best thing is listen to what the Cry Bully says and then do what’s needed.