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White Out & Wide Open

Soft As A Baby

Published in the October 2008 Issue Published online: Oct 20, 2008 Column Steve Janes
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Just the other day I was waiting for my wife outside a department store and I noticed a man walking through the parking lot with his wife and baby. With the infant in his arms, he carefully opened the back door of his three-quarter ton diesel truck.

I watched as the big, burly father took great care in tenderly sliding the baby into the infant seat and delicately attaching all the harnesses to secure the child. He leaned in and gave his baby a kiss on the forehead, handing it a soft toy to keep it entertained and then gently closed the door. You could tell by the expression on his face that this man felt great love and pride in his baby.

I guess the reason this caught my attention was because of the great contrast between this man's physical appearance and the gentleness with which he treated his baby.

Later that day I was at a snowmobile dealership checking on some parts. As I was just getting back into my truck, I noticed a similar three-quarter ton diesel truck backing up to the loading dock. A big, burly man got out of this truck and went around to the back and lowered his tailgate to load his new snowmobile.

Although the technician from the dealership seemed to be anxious to shove it in the back, this big, burly man took the time to gently slide it in and he took great care to tenderly wrap his tie-downs around the bumper, taking great care not to scratch anything with the metal hooks, making certain that only the fabric portion of the tie-downs came in contact with his new snowmobile.

Even after the sled was loaded this proud new owner did one last walk-around, making sure nothing was going to rub or get loose. He even took out his handkerchief and wiped some smudges off the hood. You could tell by the expression on his face that this man felt great love and pride in his baby.

Now I don't want to go comparing the love of a father for his child to the love of a snowmobiler for his machine. But as I witnessed these two comparable situations, it was easy to see the similarities in both.

There is something to be said about our connectedness to our toys. In the rough and tumble world of snowmobiling-busting through powder, hammering up steep slopes and dropping off cornices-snowmobilers still have a tender spot for their sleds. They are our babies. We may ride them hard at times, but we always make it up to them by buying them the nicest accessories, feeding them the best octane fuels and polishing them up when they're sitting in the shop.

We are proud of them. We like to boast of their accomplishments. And we don't take kindly to others putting them down . although there are times when they do disappoint us and we call them worthless pieces of crap. But that's for us to say.

There are some notable similarities and differences between an infant and a snowmobile. For example, we like it when one makes a loud noise, but we like the other to be quiet. We don't like to see either getting hurt or damaged.

The big difference is that unlike our children where it takes until late in their teenage years before we can boot them out the door and be thankful that those days are over, our snowmobiles reach their maturity much sooner-sometimes after only one or two years-and then we're ready to trade them in on another precious new baby.

Watching the man with the infant brought back pleasant memories of my children growing up. Watching the other with his sled made me want to go home and put another coat of shine on the hood.