Charles Agar " Just scraping by |

Charles Agar " Just scraping by

Charles Agar / Grandstanding
Grand County, Colorado

Spring may have sprung in surrounding states, but Old Man Winter is sticking around the Colorado High Country.

Cold temps and yet more snow in Winter Park are good news for skiers and riders and mean we’ll slide through the last days of the ski season on heaven-sent softness, not to mention there’s more base for months of backcountry bliss to come.

Unfortunately, more winter weather also means that it’s almost May and I’m still scraping ice off my windshield every morning. It’s starting to wear on me.

Native people in arctic climes come up with hundreds of ways to describe snow, and even ski town speak has an extensive vocabulary to describe everything from “cold smoke” powder to cruddy “dust on crust” and spring’s glorious “peanut butter” slush.

In like manner, after months of observation, I’m in tune with the ice that forms on the windshield of my car every morning. It’s gotten so that a quick glance out the kitchen window is all it takes for me to know how long I’ll need to get my chariot cleaned off and dug out of its slip to make it to work on time.

Some days my windshield is encased in a sheen of ice as thick as an old-time Coke bottle. Other days, the coating is loose and granulated, or, as in the recent warm weather, it’s brittle and falls off with just a slam of the car door.

The window ice also seems to correspond to my own mental states, forming thick and stubborn on the days when I feel the world is treating me like a baby treats a diaper, or giving way readily when things are going my way.

There was just one minus-30 degree day this season when my old Subaru wouldn’t turn over for me, which is the first step. I blast the defrost and start in with a long-handled brush and clear snow and any loose ice chunks before I have at it with my “unbreakable” ice scraper (I have been through two this season). And scraping the car can even be therapeutic or just a way to get the blood pumping.

The worst, though, is when the car’s interior is full of moisture because of wet ski gear or my own heavy breathing. When that happens, I have to pick away at an icy layer inside the car, leaving a snow cone’s worth of curly ice chips on my dashboard.

Attentively circling and scraping the vehicle might look like I’m performing a benediction if seen by someone unfamiliar with the daily scrape, and I guess I do have some reverence for the car that’s moved me around the country and taken me on some great adventures.

In fact this year in the nation’s icebox was hard on the little “station wagon that could,” with a broken windshield early on and freeze and thaw causing the rubber door seals to pull off and sag like deflated bike tubes from each closed door (I had to replace one and glue the rest).

Don’t let it be said that I’m bucking for shorter winters or less snow or anything ” sacrilegious sentiments I’ve been hearing a lot around town these days ” but I could use a break from the daily scrape. Or maybe just an upgrade to a home with a garage.

” Charles Agar is starting a new holiday ” “Marmot Day” ” which will be something like Groundhog Day only a hibernating marmot will emerge from the Crooked Creek Saloon after happy hour on a day in early April. If he sees his bank statement, he goes back into the bar for another six weeks of winter. If not, it’s time to put away our ice scrapers. Write to him at for details.

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