We all have survival strategies, whether we recognize them or not. One of mine deals with something quite basic and primal: Getting through each winter.
    My survival plan is simple. I forget, from one year to the next, how awful, good, terrible or mild the previous winter was. Only when I look back and read my calendar notes does that winter come roaring back.
    This strategy might be something I was born with, hardwired into my DNA and soul by my Scandinavian, English, French and North American ancestors. I know they all had a much tougher time making it through the fourth season than I do. But that is cold, cold solace.
    Or, maybe my winter survival strategy is something I subconsciously developed over time. Maybe it took root on those arctic walks to and from the one-room country school near Richland Center, Wis.
    The morning and afternoon trudges to Elm Grove School, close by Ash Creek, were a mere mile or less each way. But, oh, they seemed to sometimes take forever.
    Maybe I dallied along the way. Maybe I pressed out too many snowballs to lob at the threatening telephone and electric poles that loomed overhead. Maybe I explored too many steep snowbanks that the snowplows heaved up.
    Whatever the reason, I often arrived at school with cold fingers and toes. No, they were not just cold, but a fraction of a degree from frozen. Many a time I spent in the boys’ room in the basement, damp mittens off, cold water cascading o’er my frigid digits.
    Of course, there was pain. I learned at the age of 8 about the icy sting that cold can bring.
    But winter was fun, too. Tobogganing and sledding down the big hill, as we called it, was a boyhood thrill. More mundane, but still enjoyable was lowering myself into the metal saucer I received for Christmas one year. Slippery Sid, as its advertised name, carried me countless times down the small but steep hills behind the barn.
    Sid was a good friend. Sometimes I wonder what ever happened to him.
    This winter of 2017-18 took its sweet time waltzing in. And, that’s just fine and dandy with me.
    The winter of 2017-18 finally got here on Jan. 14 and 15. Here in southwest Wisconsin we got walloped with about 5 inches of fluffy, dry snow.
    Now, as I look out my upstairs office window on Jan. 16, I view a world that is a study in white. I can’t say I’ve ever been much of a fan of white when it comes to things like clothes and houses and cars.
    But, for the life of me, I can’t imagine snow being a different color. Maybe a blue snow, as in the Paul Bunyan tales, would be interesting. As the story goes, Babe the Blue Ox turned that color due to being out in the snow for too long.
    It would be fascinating to see, touch and frolic in a popcorn snow, too. That mythical popcorn snow is also from the tales about the mighty lumberjack who helped tame the forests of Wisconsin and Minnesota.
    This was quite a late date for our first real snow. My records tell me that last winter my neighbor crept down the driveway with his tractor and rear-mounted blade on Dec. 5 for our first driveway plowing of the season.
    By contrast, this winter he plowed us out on Jan. 15. We have a way to go to catch up to last winter’s snow plowings. Our good beef farmer-neighbor removed snow for us eight times last winter. The last time was March 3.
    In between, he spread gravel on our hilly escape route to civilization three times, starting in January and ending in late February. The gravel gives Van Johnson and the Minnesota Moose added traction so they have at least half a chance of ascending the driveway. By the way, it really is uphill both ways.
    Jessica has learned how to adapt to winter and our ski slope driveway. As soon as the first downy flake drifted down late Sunday afternoon, she was out the door and into Van Johnson as if her hair was afire. She has learned that even with front-wheel drive and snow tires all around, Van Johnson sometimes makes climbing the snowy driveway hill an adventure almost on a par with conquering Everest.
    So, Van Johnson spends part of each winter parked by our mailbox along the county road. Up there, atop the hill, the little van has come to symbolize our yearly battle with Old Man Winter.
    There’s a second part to my winter survival strategy. This one I deliberately developed many moons ago.
    Since the official start of spring is usually on March 21, I make a point of knowing how many days of winter snarl between me and that most-wonderful date. But this year, spring starts on March 20.
    So, as of Jan. 16, we have a paltry 62 days standing between us and the start of a fairer season. This year’s Spring Equinox takes place at 6:29 a.m. on Tuesday, March 20.
    Here’s another bit of cheery information: Each succeeding day brings us more daylight. For example, Jan. 17 had one minute, forty-five seconds more daylight than Jan. 16. By the time March 20 rolls around, we will have just about equal amounts of darkness and daylight.
    And before we know it, we will see and hear our first robin of the spring. Just in case you’re curious, for me, that happened on March 3 last year.
    Hmm. March 3 is only about six weeks away.