PAT NEAL: How to prepare for the coming winter

IT’S TIME ONCE again for the annual winter weather forecast.

This is a yearly service provided by this weekly wilderness gossip column in an effort to improve public safety, foster a sense of community and serve as a warning about the hardship or lack of in the coming winter season.

When it comes to being prepared for the coming winter, there are no shortcuts. Far be it from me to use this space to spread fear, innuendo and rumor about the severity of the coming winter, but you can’t say you weren’t warned.

The signs are everywhere. As the days get shorter and the mountains turn white, you have to know that we are in for a big change of seasons.

Wild animals living in a state of nature know this. They may put on an extra layer of blubber, grow their hair, hibernate or migrate.

I have tried all of these tactics in an effort to survive a hard winter, and truth be told, they all work to a variety of degrees.

Binge-eating is just one of many choices available in the winter survival toolkit. Growing your hair is another good idea.

Bears accomplish this by smearing themselves with fish oil. It might not work for all humans, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

Hibernation during the winter has been described as the ultimate winter getaway. Hibernation is an inexpensive alternative to a tropical vacation that could decrease the size of your carbon footprint.

Given the level of cultural activities available on the North Olympic Peninsula during the winter, reaching a state of semi-hibernation should be relatively easy to accomplish.

The key to winter survival can be as simple as supersizing everything while ordering fast food. The healthful preservatives in these delicious meals can allow them to be stored for months in the trunk of your car under a protective layer of old newspapers for insulation purposes.

Just set and forget until you find yourself stuck in a ditch or a snowbank for a few days. That’s when a long-forgotten sack of French fries under the back seat could be a real life-saver.

Preparation is the key to winter preparedness. Remember that every item in your winter survival kit could determine your survival or lack of in the coming winter.

It’s a good idea to make a list of every imaginable worst-case scenario and focus on the “what if’s” when getting ready for what could be the worst winter in a hundred years … or not.

Sometimes it can take a village to survive the winter. That is why it’s a good idea to make a list of all the things you may need to borrow from your friends and neighbors in the coming months.

Make sure to borrow extra batteries for the flashlight you borrow.

Borrowing a generator to deal with the inevitable power outages in the coming winter is a good idea, but just remember you’ll have to borrow some gasoline to keep the generator running long enough to view your favorite television shows.

Eventually, some of the neighbors may want their stuff back, but hopefully it will be spring by then, and think about it: Why would they have loaned you the stuff in the first place if they wanted it back?

That’s just a no-brainer.

Fortunately, with the miracle of global warming, we have a good chance to survive the coming winter without frostbite.

The corn husks are thin. The spiders are few. The birds have delayed their migration.

All of which points to a mild winter.

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Pat Neal is a fishing guide and “wilderness gossip columnist” whose column appears here every Wednesday.

He can be reached at 360-683-9867 or by email via patneal wildlife@gmail.com.