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Whether you like it or not, keep flip flops and sweaters in reach

Thank goodness for a little cold weather! By late October I was getting a bit bored with a summer that just refused to retreat into a cool, brisk fall, transition into chilly winter weather that would last from Dec. 15 through Jan. 3 and then move into a balmy spring that persists until about July 23, at which time I would be about ready for a brief warm spell.

Halloween weather was hot. November bounced in like a warm puppy. It got tedious. What happened to autumn?

I really don't like winter all that much. I don't ski. I shiver and shake a lot. I tried living through real winter twice, once during basic training in the winter wonderland of Fort Knox, Ky., back when my youthful body could accept the insult of sub-zero weather and also during a time when I had no choice in the matter.

The second winter I attempted was during a brief and unremarkable career as a public relations flunky in Kansas City, just a few years back. Didn't like it. Too much snow. Not enough sun. Too many heavy clothes for comfort. Moved to Texas.

But I do appreciate a little coolish weather around Christmas time, a tart frost on newly fallen leaves and an opportunity to wear some of those neat sweaters I bought in Kansas. A little winter is fine as long as it doesn't hang around too long. I do appreciate the wonder of a Currier and Ives wintry scene — on a greeting card.

I attempted in the last few weeks of what was supposed to be fall to discover some weather that resembled autumn. First, we spent a weekend with Ted and Diane (fishing buddy and spouse) in a cabin near Broken Bow, Okla. Leaves were gorgeous. Trout were mostly unreceptive and the weather was absolutely summery, a gift, actually, for someone who tends to fall into rivers, but that's another story.

Next I managed a trip to Lubbock, hoping to catch a few cotton growers in the process of harvesting the largest crop they've ever made. By the time I got to the fields the wind had picked up and sent sane people inside.

You gotta figure that when folks in Lubbock contend that it's too windy to strip a bumper cotton crop it must be coming up a blow. They figure a 25 mile-per hour breeze is hardly worthy of mention. By the time I got in, gusts were running up to 50. I put rocks in my pocket. They were staking down cotton modules to keep them from blowing over.

I suggested to some friends that I planned on driving over to Hockley County. They counseled that I could just wait a bit and a good portion of Hockley County real estate would come to me. I think I inhaled about a section of pretty good cotton land.

And then it got cold. Way cold. Freezing cold. Reminded me of Fort Knox in the winter of '72. I put on all the clothes I had, including the lightweight windbreaker I'd astutely packed. Windbreaker? Hah. Didn't make a dent in that stiff breeze. And it did little to ward off the High Plains cold.

Cold, windy, dusty weather. What's that old saw about being careful what you wish for?

So, thank you very much, I've had quite enough winter. I'll make my way home tomorrow and hope for a warming trend. Perhaps it will be nice enough on Christmas Day to barbecue some ribs on my patio in shorts and flip-flops. Brrrrr.

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