Stay warm and stay dry this winter

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Ahh, winter in Chatham-Kent. It’s like that old Bits & Bites commercial: “Every handful is a whole new ball game.”

We never know what we’ll get in C-K for winters. The previous two were so brutally cold that when the cold snap descended upon us last week, I was saying it was merely “fresh” outside and people usually agreed.

Yep, -10C is “fresh” compared to -15 or -20 of a year ago. And it’s not that bad when the sun is shining and still melting snow.

But one thing we can generally count on at times over our C-K winters is the flash freezes. One day, it’s unseasonably warm with rain, followed by an afternoon rapid cool down and an overnight chill that leaves us with slick walkways and frozen car windows.

It’s humorous to see people react to such conditions. For instance, on Friday morning, as I was at the drive-thru grabbing a bagel, the woman in front of me popped open her door to place her order at the speaker. She actually got right out of her car and walked up to the window to pay for her coffee.

When your window doesn’t go down, to me, you park your vehicle and walk in the restaurant.

I try to plan ahead. If I really have to get something on the way to work, I try that window as I’m heading down our residential street. If it doesn’t come down, I’m either walking in at the coffee shop, or going straight to the office.

But props to the lady for turning the drive-thru into a walk-up.

I’d bring up drive-thru etiquette here, but Jim Blake eloquently covered that issue many months ago in a brilliant tongue-in-cheek column.

This would be a fine addition to his list.

Being from northern Ontario and Quebec, I may be a bit more experienced in the deep chill than some others. There are some things you do and some you don’t to get through it.

When it’s darned cold out, be aware things will ice up if you wash your car. With all the salt on our roads, our vehicles quickly get covered in it. And it gets on our coats as we get in and out of our vehicles.

A trip through the car wash can give you and your vehicle a break. But when it’s -10C, things freeze up fast. The water doesn’t usually have time to dry before it freezes.

If you don’t wipe down where your door meets the car, it can freeze shut. Ditto for your car locks. And wipers may not function properly.

I take a towel to wipe down the rubber on the door right after I’m done at the car wash.

Regardless of what you do, you’ll likely end up with frozen windows, just like the lady at the drive-thru. Until your vehicle heats up and you are able to wiggle the windows free, there’s not much you can do about that, unfortunately.

Just remember, spring is on the way and this winter has been downright tropical compared to what we endured the previous two years.

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