Don't be fooled by slight chill

November 03, 2001|By Rob Kasper

THE ECONOMY may be in a recession, and the "We-Obviously-Have-A-Pact-With-The-Devil" Yankees may be close to winning another World Series, yet there is joy in my heart.

It is November and I still haven't fired up the furnace. Lately, it has been so balmy - in the 70s yesterday - that all around town people have been taking off clothes, not putting them on. Guys with bad legs have donned shorts, as have gals with good ones.

Late Thursday afternoon I felt wanton as I walked through downtown Baltimore and peeled off my sports coat. A few minutes later, a woman clad in running shorts and a sweatshirt scampered past me. "It is like spring," I said.

"It is wonderful," she replied, and soon her bare legs were flashing up St. Paul Street.

All this warm air and bare flesh filled my head with giddy thoughts, such as the prospect of making it into December - a personal best - without having to pay a fuel bill.

As for those weather wimps out there who turned on their furnaces back on Oct. 8 when the temperature dipped to 31, shame on you! It was only a passing cold front, a temporary deviation from our usual autumn climate of sunshine and smiles.

That is the schtick I try out every fall when cries of "I'm freezing!" or "Turn on the heat, cheapskate!" are heard ringing through the crisp, cool air inside our home.

I tell family members to keep a stiff - if frosty- upper lip, to put on a sweater and stay the course, that there is a warm front just around the corner.

When you live in the Baltimore area, there is, I contend, no need to rush into the "heating season." Just wait a few days, the fall weather will turn. In the meantime, go solar, sit in a warm bathtub and think happy thoughts.

This reluctance to turn on the furnace is part of my overarching conviction that the best way to avoid getting hit with a nasty winter is to pretend that it won't happen. It is the reverse from the "scare-winter-away" position, which advocates loading up on ice melt and snow shovels in the belief that they will never have to be used.

Some days the "fiddle-dee-dee, why-worry-about-winter" approach is hard to sell. Just last weekend, for instance, after a sharp wind rattled the house and made my teeth chatter, I was forced to take a few small steps.

I removed the screen panel from the back door and replaced it with the glass, storm panel. I helped my son remove an air conditioner from his bedroom window. I turned off the water supply feeding an outdoor spigot. I consider these steps acknowledgement that winter - and its attendant scenes of snowbound South Dakota that TV weather people delight in showing us - exists. But I believe that if we don't draw a lot of attention to ourselves, by buttoning all the storm windows, bleeding the radiators and turning on the furnace, winter just might forget us.

Moreover, turning on the furnace would be admitting defeat, sending up a puff of smoke, surrendering dollars to whatever the name of the "utility company" is this year. Nope. Not gonna do it. Not when the temperature is so warm that the young folks are wearing shorts on St. Paul Street.

One year, I made it all the way to Thanksgiving without sending up a puff of furnace smoke signaling surrender. This year I am looking at Christmas.

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