Lileks: The rites (and wrongs) of spring

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS
  • Star Tribune
  • March 29, 2014 - 4:02 PM

Even if the long-range weath­er fore­casts call for “unseasonal snow and scat­tered weep­ing” we all know win­ter is over, be­cause April is nigh. So it’s prob­a­bly time to take down the Christ­mas lights.

I’m sorry, but colum­nists are sup­posed to take controversial po­si­tions. But there are oth­er things you need to do to usher in spring:

• Get­ting an ac­tu­al carwash in­stead of using the wind­shield-wip­er flu­id at the gas sta­tion, aka “red­neck de­tail­ing.”

• Clean up the dog bombs, which should have de­grad­ed by now. Re­al­ly, what am I feed­ing Rov­er, Port­land ce­ment?

• Call in a pot­hole on the Minneapolis 311 app, be­cause you like to think alarm bells will go off, city employees will slide down poles, and they’ll burst out of the shed with a pot of hot as­phalt on wheels, bells clang­ing.

• But most of all: clean up the ex­ten­sion cords in the yard.

There were lights on the bush­es and the trees, which re­quired long thick out­door cords con­nected to a cen­tral multi-out­let pole, which was con­nected to a tim­er, which was con­nected to the out­let; when plugged in, half the dials at the Prairie Island nu­clear plant went into the red. Fes­tive! So is burn­ing mon­ey while you whis­tle “Jin­gle Bells,” but you have to do your part for hol­i­day cheer.

Then came the snow, the oc­ca­sion­al thaw, and the hard long freeze: the cords en­tombed in sol­id ice. A few weeks ago I tried chip­ping them out, and was ac­tu­al­ly ham­mer­ing an ice chip­per over the cords when I re­al­ized I am strik­ing an e­lec­tri­cal cord with a hard metal ob­ject. This is how you cre­ate stor­ies with the line, “well, right be­fore my heart stopped I no­ticed my toe­nails had blown clear out of my boots,” and then you’re on You­Tube, won­der­ing who the dev­il was film­ing that?

So I stopped, and wait­ed for a few days. The sun came out. The Earth warmed. By Fri­day I could pull all the cords. All but one: the plug was pinned to thick floes of ice. I jerked the cord. Nothing. I thought: it’s like win­ter it­self was re­fus­ing to let go, re­fus­ing to ad­mit de­feat, re­fus­ing to give up its grip on our world — a dy­ing act of spite. Hah! You’re done, win­ter. You lose. You al­ways lose. I gave the cord a might­y tug.

The head snapped out of the ice, flew six feet, and hit me right be­tween the eyes. • 612-673-7858

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