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Old man winter vs. Old man Palmer


The Palmer family enjoyed some time out sledding in mid-January.

It is amazing how our look on life can change as we age.

After sneaking through a mild November, winter arrived in December with plenty of subzero days and a handful of snowfalls.

I have three little boys at home, ages 3, 6 and 8, and they just light up when there is heavy snow in the forecast. They get their sleds ready to go. They make sure there is plenty of hot chocolate in stock and they ask for regular updates on when the snow will arrive. They also want to know if it will be sticky snow for building snow forts (and snow ball fights) or if it will be the fine snow better for sledding. These details are very important to a 3, 6 and 8 year old.

On the other hand, a foot of snow gets a whole different reaction from me these days. While I enjoy playing in the snow with the boys, a foot of snow means a whole lot of shoveling both at home and at work, a sore back, stressful driving, salt-covered cars and shoes, and the difficult management of our boys’ gloves, hats, boots and snow pants.


Old man Palmer cross country skiiing on Monday, Jan. 13. with help from Easton. I only fell down three times. (Yikes).

For my relatives in Duluth, snow season is even more difficult. Because of the lake effect of Lake Superior, they get walloped just about every year. They have already sent photos of 2 and 3-foot snowfalls, which makes our 6-10 inch snowfalls look like a dusting.

For a percentage of our readers, the first snowfall means it is time to head south. I don’t know if I will ever be a snowbird. I’ve always liked having all four seasons. And I’ve never hated winter enough to want to completely avoid it. I just wish I could shrink winter to one month. I could see myself leaving for a few weeks in January to break it up.

When it comes down to it, it isn’t the beginning or the end of winter that I have a problem with — it is the middle part.

So with the middle part fast approaching — I think I may need to take a different approach this year. Instead of hunkering down for a month, there must be a way to “attack” winter back. The hardest days of winter for me are generally the first couple of weeks in January. It is the coldest time of the year. Fewer people are out and about. The people who are out and about are bundled up so much you can’t tell who they are. No organizations schedule anything at all during this time of the year. There is literally nothing going on. I guess that’s why they call  it the “dead of winter.”


Old man Palmer socks it to Old man winter to make up for the lousy start of the month.

Here is my personal  plan to bring some life to the dead of winter… From Jan. 2-15, Old Man Palmer will be taking on Old Man Winter. My attack plan is to do the following during this 13-day span: 1) cross-country ski; 2) make at least one snow angel; 3) construct a fully enclosed snow fort; 4) go ice skating; 5) find a new (big) sledding hill; and 6) go for a hike of at least one mile.

I will post this column on our web page ( and will post photos as I accomplish these. This will make me do them. Typically, it is easy for me to just stay inside during this stretch of the year. I generally do some of these activities at some point during the winter with my boys, but rarely during the first couple of weeks in January. Usually, I come out in March when the snow is melting. This year, things will be different.

Thanks for a great year Just a quick thank you to all of our readers and advertisers for a great year. Our readership continues to grow in our 21st year and I am very much looking forward to 2014. Have a happy new year!

Cookbook sales Cookbook sales are winding down and there are still several stores that have a few books left. We distributed more than 29,000 books this year, about 5,000 more than last year. Because of this, it should be a little easier to find the book in January this year. Typically, the books are 95 percent sold out by Jan. 1. We are currently at about 80 percent sold out at all locations.

And for those snowbirds that hope to purchase a book or two when they get back, we will have extra books at the office if you can’t find one when you get back.

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