You know, of course, that I hate winter.

Whatís there to like about it? I mean, sure, in Minnesota, you at least have the benefit of snow to frolic in, if you like that sort of thing. In Michigan you can marvel at the beautiful icicles. In Connecticut, you can ice skate.

In Louisiana, you can shiver and look out at a brown world.

Thereís no such thing as a white Christmas in Louisiana, even year before last when it snowed a quarter inch. Within two hours, the snow was brown.

Itís all brown. The trees are brown, the ground is brown and, worst of all, the speeding transit of cane trucks and tractors either throw enough dust if itís dry or mud if itís wet to turn everything else brown from top to bottom.

Car wash owners must consider this a lean time of year, because most of us donít even bother to wash our vehicles until grinding is over. Notice I said "car wash" because whoís going to wash a car by hand with temperatures in the 30s? Not I.

About that cold, though. You gotta wonder about those first European settlers to this alleged "new world." I mean, you can forgive the Indians, because we mostly came across the frozen land bridge at Beringia, chasing mastodons, from Siberia, so cold was old hat to us.

But here comes the first Europeans who come in via the Caribbean, and enter this continent via Florida, Louisiana and Mexico. Slowly they began working their way north, and some began coming in at New England.

I gotta wonder how a buncha Puritans who arrived from England with little more than their buckles and top hats didnít get one taste of that first New England winter and high tail it back to King George. What, you think London was cold? Try camping on a hillside in Massachusetts starving to death while the indigenous people are eyeing your pots, pans and blunderbuss, not to be confused with a cumberband, which does not shoot very far.

Thatís fine and dandy, New England can have some bad winters of course, but when the first settlers hit Minnesota in winter, and didnít promptly say, "Forget this nonsense," and catch the first frigate back to YorkshireÖwell, there just wasnít a lot of good sense at work there.

All of which proves that the Cajun people were some of the smartest that ever lived in North America. Why? Because they left Nova Scotia, average mean temperature -125 degrees, and didnít stop until they hit the Gulf of Mexico and warm weather. One wonders if the Acadians had veered slightly farther east on their long exodus, Miami might be named Abbeville today.

So when it gets this cold, I have to turn the water off at home, because after nine years of living there, I still havenít insulated the pipes. Which means that first thing when I wake up, before I can make coffee or take a shower, I have to put on shoes and a coat and go outside to turn the water back on. Thereís a few things in the world more miserable, but not many.

I also put the dog in the workshop at night when itís freezing overnight. When I got up this morning to go to work I opened the door and said, "Come on, dearie, back to the yard."

She thumped her tail and looked up at me with those big brown eyes as if to say, "Are you kidding?"

"Come on, come on, Iím gonna be late," I say.

She gets up, comes right next to me and sits down, looking mournfully out the door. She shivers with all the drama of a 1940s character actor.

"Your ancestors are from Labrador," I say. "Average mean temperature -200 degrees!"

She gives me a dismissing look, turns around and goes back to her blanket. "No, fat boy," that look seems to says, "Iím from south Louisiana and I ainít no fool."

Well, the dogís smarter than us, anyway, because we merrily throw ourselves into the cold to go to work and be miserable all day. Go figure. For this the Pilgrims almost starved to death during the winter while the Indians played stickball in the snow and cuddled under bear skins. I really believe all the Indian wars that followed were a result of that first winter in New England: The settlers were so mad and their brains frost bitten they went postal on the indigenous people, a remarkable feat since the postal service would not be founded for another couple hundred years.

Someone told me just yesterday, "Man, theyíre killing the sac-au-lait at (location withheld to protect the sac-au-lait)!"

I tried to be manly and say, "Well, heck, pardner, I guess Iíll just hafta load up my little bateau and head on out there Saturday morning and catch me a mess Ďo them-there fishies," but in truth, I was thinking, "Forget that," and wondering if I liquidated all my assets if I could afford a shotgun house in the Keys. A quick calculation revealed Iíd be hard-pressed to afford the front door, and thatís throwing in a loan from the mob.

Itís another hard freeze tonight, so I reckon weíll be suffering through it all again, until Monday, anyway, forecast high temperature of 75 degrees, low of 61 that night. Short pants and shirt sleeves weather.

Did I mention, I hate winter?