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Forget all the advice about surviving the cold, imitate my cat and you'll be fine
by Dan Brawner Columnist · January 11th, 2018


A couple of days ago, I was driving north on Hwy. 1, on the lookout for another deer with a hero complex, thinking it can body check my already dented pickup like a hockey player, when I noticed a bright plume of ice crystals, swirling up from the pile of snow in the truck bed and trailing behind me like a comet.

"It's winter!" I thought to myself. It had been so long. I hadn't seen winter in - I don't know - a year. After a mild fall, I was afraid I had jinxed it by buying a gigantic snow blower. In early December, kids were still playing Frisbee in shorts and t-shirts. Global warming had turned Iowa into Arkansas. I yearned for snow, gazing wistfully out the window like a basset hound waiting for his master to come home.

And then the snow came and I finally got to fire up the snow blower. First, I removed the accumulation from our driveway. Then I figured I might as well do our sidewalk. And the neighbor's sidewalk. And, what the heck, the rest of the block. People were starting to think I worked for the city and began complaining I hadn't cleared off their alley yet. And why hadn't I picked up their recycling? It was time to head back home.

After the snow, came the cold. Not just cold, but serious cold that takes your breath away and freezes your nostrils closed and clamps down on your ears like it's got teeth. It was so cold on New Year's Day that in the Waterloo suburb of Evansdale, the water tower actually froze. The National Weather Service reported that Ames had wind chill readings of 40 degrees below zero. It hasn't been that cold in 20 years. I had been wishing for a picturesque bit of winter, not the next Ice Age.

Now I remembered that I had always hated winter. No matter how well you sweep off the roof of your car, when you open the driver's side door, a snow drift lands on the car seat. You clumsily attempt to brush away the wispy stuff, but it mocks you, flying up into the air and settling right back down again, hiding in crevices and clinging to the fabric. You sigh and sit in it, waiting for the inevitable thaw that will leave the seat of your pants wet and cold, wishing you lived in some place nice like Death Valley.

Chirpy news anchors give us advice (from the safety of their toasty TV studios) about how to survive the bitter cold. Wear scarves and ear muffs. Drink plenty of water. They warn that pets are at particular risk. This is not true for our cat, Shavi, who will go to any lengths to avoid being uncomfortable. Frigid temperatures pose no danger to her. She will stand by the door until I open it and wait for her to venture out. Shavi then looks up at me as if to say, "I see you are out of your mind, but you can't imagine I would go out into that." Whereupon, she turns and finds a cozy spot by the radiator.

Cats are more sensible than people. And cats are not at all nostalgic about winter.

That's why you will never see a cat with a snow blower.
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