In the winter, time finds you
If you are in one of those locales that gets tolerable weather year-round, go ahead and skip to the bottom now and make your snarky comment. Not even going to try and take that away from you. What I will say is that I need winter. You might need it too and not even realize it. Seriously.
The snow falling—or, more accurately, the salt truck driving by—signals the end of one season and entry into another. The race tracks are closed. The roads are covered in that nasty mix of sodium and chloride that conspires to oxidize nearly every surface of a car with ruthless abandon. Toss in the whole tilt-of-the-earth bit and how short the days get up here on the 45th parallel and it’s easy to see why seasonal affective disorder is a thing—especially for those of us who enjoy vintage cars.
For some of us, this season is not the sad one, though. These are the exciting times. Okay, maybe not exciting, but at least not the depths of boring. Not because I enjoy the snow or cold, but because it means no more driving. No more racing, except for a few crazies. Significantly less time and money spent traveling to events. Of course, that sounds like hell to most, but feeling truly stuck at home is impossible when you have a heated garage and a backlog of problems and projects awaiting attention.
More often than not, the hardest part of any project is finding the time to do it. During the warm months, it is easy to feel bad about holing up in the garage to work for an entire Saturday when the sun is begging you to swap safety glasses for Ray Bans. Given the opportunity to drive your car, you should. But the shift in seasons means that no one can tell you that your car should be on the road. You don’t have to justify staying inside to work on piddly tasks or spending a whole weekend in the shop just cleaning.
Now is the time to work on a project peacefully and without rush. The batteries in the one clock I have in my shop usually die about now each year. It’s magical timing for sure. A time for getting lost in a task and focusing on all the little details that you have no reason to ignore, since time is not a factor. Deadlines still exist, but they are far into the future at this point. You can take time to breathe and refocus.
There’s also that old part about distance making the heart grow fonder. Being separated from cars for the season only makes me enjoy the sliver of summer that much more. I’ll drive the fun cars at every opportunity, even if the choice is slightly inconvenient. If the weather was near-perfect every day, I would probably never drive my cars, because I would skip over good enough and wait for perfect.
A college roommate once told me about the house he grew up in, just half a mile from a California beach. Can you guess somewhere he had never been, when he moved to Kansas’ McPherson College at 18 years old? The beach. It was always there. They could always go tomorrow. The weather was two degrees less than ideal, so they stayed home. A whole 18 years passed before they knew it.
Everything has a deadline set by Mother Nature. Winter becomes the yin to summer’s yang, and months of driving become months of parking. For some of us the extremes are required. The seasons prevent me from getting lost and never finishing my project cars. Nothing makes driving season quite as sweet as enduring—nay, embracing—wrenching season.
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