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Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: The rush to fireplace season

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

There are two kinds of people in the Inland Northwest.

Sane individuals. And those who think it’s never too early to start using the fireplace.

Often, these two groups have representatives in the same family. That can make things interesting at this time of year ’round the old home and hearth.

Sure, there’s an occasional nip in the air in late September. But we’re not quite to frost-on-the-pumpkin season yet. Are we?

Of course, the urge to use the fireplace is not strictly determined by the outdoor temperature. There are atmospherics to consider.

For some, a blazing fire is an essential part of their vision of an ideal Northwest lifestyle. So you can’t really blame these folks for wanting to get their Snugsville on.

Others might be inclined to rush fireplace season because they spent half the summer gathering wood. They could be excused for being a tad overeager about lighting their fires, so to speak.

And I guess if you live off the grid, you belong in your own category.

But some of us have inhaled enough smoky air in 2018 to last us until Christmas carols season.

Till then? Oh, the weather outside is … delightful.

Readers getting a word in edgewise

“Your mention of ‘jelly hands’ in today’s column got me thinking,” wrote Glen Kauffman. “Our oldest daughter referred to seemingly always sticky preschooler hands as ‘banana fingers,’ after working as a counselor in a Girl Scout camp. What are some of your readers’ other descriptors of this plague?”

Cathi Lamoreux answered a question in Wednesday’s column. “I think I qualify for moving here from places with tougher winters. I lived in Montreal for 20 years, then Maine for three years before coming to Spokane in 1992. Although, in my 26 winters here there have been some doozies!”

Les Graham said I overlooked something in writing about everybody reading broadsheet newspapers in ancient episodes of “Perry Mason.”

“You probably should have mentioned their size too. A generous crib blanket then, barely more than a handkerchief today.”

And Tara Leininger, who lives in northern Pend Oreille County, said next month’s reduction of border-crossing hours up there is just one more example of people in an area with a small population getting shoved around by places with more political clout.

How to know when you stopped rockin’

As we have discussed many times over the years, there are numerous indications. Excessive attention to the garbage/recycling barrels might be an example.

But I think one stands above the rest. It’s this.

When a couple greet each other at home after the work day and one of the first topics is what TV shows got recorded after bedtime the previous night.

“We’ve got ‘Better Call Saul’ and ‘Darn that Pope.’ So there’s that.”

Now let me be clear. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having television programs you both enjoy. It’s life in America.

It’s just not rockin’. That’s all I’m saying.

End note

My wife and I were in the post office on South Grand, next in line to be helped at the service counter.

The only clerk in evidence at that moment was assisting a young woman with her mailing needs. That customer was accompanied by her preschool son.

This lad, perhaps reasonably assuming his mother’s postal business was going to take a geologic age, dropped to the floor. He began to calmly roll around.

He was not bothering anyone and wasn’t making any appreciable noise. He was just lying on a public floor mat, his mind traveling to a free-range world of his own.

Two thoughts occurred. Can you remember what it was like to be that relaxed and uninhibited? And second, that floor mat probably wasn’t the cleanest surface in the world.

But perhaps parents have to choose their battles. The mother at the counter clearly didn’t think it was worthwhile to demand that her son stand at attention. If some older generation onlookers didn’t like it, well, tough.

As for that floor mat, well, cleanliness standards are a somewhat subjective matter.

When the woman completed her transaction, she matter-of-factly instructed her supine son to get up. “Or someone will step on you.”

He complied with zero whining.

It made me wonder. Is not sweating the little stuff one of the keys to parenting survival?

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