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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

Summer's white flag looks a lot like your front door

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The first leaf to hit the ground.

That one morning when the air seems just a bit chillier.

The ceremonial and frantic search through the trunk and back seat, trying to find the scraper.

All are signs that summer is beating a retreat, but to me nothing says "farewell warm stuff, hello white stuff" better than the annual changing of the front door screen.

It's a far more solemn ritual than the one that comes in spring when you get to change out the bulky glass panel for it's seemingly lighter-than-air replacement.   Seriously, what short a sunburn or a gin and tonic says "summer good times" better than a screen door?  Keeps flies out--flies are part of summer, aren't they?--lets warm air and good times in.

What says "winter cold blast" more abruptly than that front door glass?  If yours is like mine, it even has the audacity to steam up during installation, the vapor a sure sign that the tool is accepting it's upcoming job after months in basement exile.

And in Wisconsin, it's a job that seemingly takes forever to complete.  As I reached for the glass this morning, it's heft prompted some mental math--yes, it had been seven months since I changed it out, but it felt like only seven weeks.   And, if all goes well, the screen should be called into duty hopefully by April, roughly five months hence.  Why is it that those five wintry months feel like five wintry years?   Because we forget those wondrous mornings of fresh white powder and sunshine, of crisp blue skies and outdoor fun.  What we dwell on are the damp, gray late season days where the white has long since turned black and dingy, when sun seems like a rumor hidden behind a battleship shaded sky.  Those days feel like months onto themselves, so it 's no wonder the season seems to slog endlessly along.

The job is done. The house already feels warmer.  The screen is banished to the basement, its winter home next to the sump pump.  Soon it'll be time to prop the front door open again for another seasonal ritual--hauling in the Christmas tree.  The promise of the season, the gathering of family, the Yuletide acknowledgement of friends and co-workers.   Winter isn't bad, it's just long.  It isn't savored the way summer is.  More often in Wisconsin, it's endured.

Don't know if we're ready for it, but at least the front door is.

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