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Enjoy the white stuff!

Well, it’s pretty clear that winter is really here. The sound of snowplows and snowblowers, the scraping of shovels on driveways and sidewalks and yes, the laughter of children delighting in the fact that they’re out of school and spend hours sliding down local hills — it all signals the return of a real winter blizzard.

With that fact, of course, comes additional duties and responsibilities.

Cars must be sporting good snowtires and perhaps even studs. Wipers must be new and limber.

Old, tired batteries will surely let us down when the temperature drops below freezing and even zero degrees.

And our driving must change, as well. Do you remember how to steer INTO a skid to recover? If not, perhaps a half hour or so in a local parking lot will allow some safe practice.

And then there’s patience, which is required at this time of the year.

No longer can we roar up to a stop sign and slam on the brakes, then jam the accelerator to the floor.

Slippery roads simply won’t permit that sort of cowboy technique.

And safety demands our complete attention ... cell phones and other distractions, bad enough in good weather, are a recipe for disaster in bad conditions.

In addition, snow banks pose their own problems ... little children can pop out from behind a corner snowplow drift with little or no warning, so total concentration is absolutely necessary.

All of this is familiar ... we are, after all, New Englanders and we’re used to this sort of challenge.

And we also look forward to the extra chances to enjoy our beautiful outdoors at this time of year.

We can “slide,” we can ski, we can snowshoe, we can drive the roads and enjoy the white vistas, we can huddle by the fire and drink mulled cider or hot chocolate ... and perhaps, if we’re so inclined, a sip of something harder.

We can revel in the excitement of our children, patiently pulling them up the slope for another run down, reminding them to dress warmly, not to lose their gloves and to come in before they are absolutely blue with cold.

It’s a great time of year ... be sure to be safe and to enjoy it.

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