STEVE OUELLETTE, You Had to Ask
---- — On March 18, I was bitten by a mosquito. Here, in the "frozen tundra" of the North Country.
Instead of receiving a swat and a quick death, the mosquito escaped with my blood, simply because I was stunned and unprepared. Mosquitos in winter; it's come to that.
Somehow, winter here ended before it ever began. We went from summer, to fall, to later fall, to mid spring to early summer with barely a pause to pay the heating bill.
We lost an entire season, one that used to define our region. Sure, there was a Christmas and a New Year's, but Thanksgiving was whiter than both. Heck, parts of New Mexico had more snow in a day than Plattsburgh had all winter.
Snow blowers gathered dust for the past three months. Personally, I pulled out a snow shovel just three times, and once was just to knock the Frisbee off the roof.
This winter, ski resorts resorted to giving scenic gondola rides. Skaters were forced to swim. Snowplow drivers filed for unemployment.
Snowball fights became just fights. Ice fishermen were forced to, well, fish in open water. St. Bernards rescued hikers from the bottom of mudslides. Biathletes went from potential Olympians to dangerous people running through the fields with guns.
Hardly any kids were concussed at the local sledding hill this year because there was hardly any sledding. Children couldn't make snowmen, instead being forced to cobble together terrible little figures out of dirt, twigs and freshly mown grass.
Our once howling winds changed to tropical breezes. Snow angels became dust devils. Winter carnivals became spring flings. Ice palaces became wading pools. Our New Year's Eve party turned into a backyard cookout.
Department stores started to put up their bathing-suit displays in January. I couldn't buy a sweater or a pair of gloves anywhere in February.
The Ausable River hardly ever flooded this year because of ice jams, and the spring thaw isn't raising water levels anywhere. You have to freeze before you thaw. Flowers are already pushing through the soil.
The city-school system has so many leftover snow days that students will get out of class in May. There's so much money left in the county snow-removal budget that they may just be able to afford that bridge to Vermont after all.
I'm not even scared about jinxing it. There's nothing but warmth and sunshine in the long-range forecast. No spring snowstorms for us. August here we come.
My wife wants me to install the air conditioner. My kids want me to start digging a pool in the backyard. If this keeps up, it might not be a bad investment.
It is not too early to consider this a trend instead of a weird fluke. We have officially changed from winter wonderland to sunny paradise.
Family farms will plant oranges, mangos and pineapples. Local baseball and softball teams will get a full season in for the first time in history. The Mets may move their spring training site here.
The travel industry can begin selling the Plattsburgh area as a tropical destination. They'll place a new Club Med on the shores of Lake Champlain. Spring Break in Plattsburgh will become a trendy college hot spot. The "Girls Gone Wild" producers will open up a permanent branch office.
Water skiing and jet skis will replace downhill skis and snowmobiles. Deer hunting season will change to leopard, water buffalo and koala bear hunting season. Alligators have already been spotted floating down the Saranac River.
Senior citizens are moving from Arizona to retire in Altona. Lake Placid has stopped dreaming about hosting the Winter Olympics … and started dreaming about hosting the Summer Games.
The North Country is turning into Southern California. We'll have to beware of earthquakes instead of blizzards; sunburn instead of frostbite.
I won't blame global warming for our sudden change in weather fortune. The warming trend could just as easily be the fault of Norse gods or that 9-year-old in Ticonderoga who keeps leaving the front door open, making his parents heat the whole outside.
I think, though, that this is a change I can get used to.
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