Winter is here, or at least it was. It blew in a week or so ago, stuck its head in the door and disappeared again, like a college student coming home for spring break.

Winter is here, or at least it was. It blew in a week or so ago, stuck its head in the door and disappeared again, like a college student coming home for spring break.

It'll almost certainly return, though. At the risk of sounding like an extremely old person who sits in a rocking chair and waves her cane around while recalling yesteryear, I must note that weather much like this - lots of rain, unseasonably high temperatures - preceded the blizzard of '78, which roared into Ohio early on a Thursday morning, waking everybody up and shutting things like heat and electricity down.

Not that I'm predicting another blizzard. I seriously believe that we won't see the likes of that again. To offer some perspective, in 1978 my mother-in-law said she got out of bed when the wind began howling around the house and the windows frosted over. "I've never seen a storm like this in my life," she told my husband and me. Watching the weather was like turning a house cat turn into a mountain lion.

We still have winters, though, and most of them are far more of the knock-down-drag-out variety than this one's been so far. You'd think we'd remember how to drive in the snow and brake in the snow and make left turns in the snow and cope with frozen anything - rain, driver's side doors, electronic window regulators, toes - but we don't. Winter passes into spring and our short-term memories are wiped as clean as the memory of that poor guy Leonard in the movie "Memento." Driving in snow? Haven't a clue. Wearing a hat, or at least taking a hat, in case you have to walk someplace in below-zero weather? How dorky. Giving yourself plenty of time and snow-covered road to brake for the stop sign way up there? Are you kidding?

Then, of course, comes the skid, the slide, and the spin-out that remind onlookers of another, more recent movie: the scene in "Hugo" in which a train careens off the tracks, smashes into a railroad station, hurtles through the arrival hall, scattering travelers and their luggage, and finally crashes through the enormous arched windows at the station's main entrance.

And I haven't even mentioned the importance of scraping one's windshield, and the importance of owning an instrument intended for windshield scraping. People who rashly conclude that this razor blade or this soup can lid or this broken pocket mirror is just as good are never pleased with how that story comes out, whereas people who arm themselves with a nice sturdy scraper are never sorry.

Or at least, they aren't sorry if they remember to put the scraper in the car and use it when the need arises. Many motorists, I've observed, fail to follow through on this final step of the windshield scraping process. Those are the ones seen cleaning their windshields with a credit card.

That would be fine if they cleaned the whole thing. Who baffle me are the people who scrape just enough to clear a tiny saucer-sized peephole on the driver's side windshield. Sometimes, if they got up early enough, they scrape a somewhat smaller space, say the size of a potato pancake, for a passenger's convenience. As for the back windshield, why slave over that when you have side mirrors?

I see these cars, snow-covered save for two miniature circles on the windshield, until a pothole or a sudden gust of wind tosses snow from the car's roof forward to slide down the glass, obscuring the driver's vision entirely.

"Why not just clear the entire window?" I hear you asking. Or was that me, or my husband? We've all asked this question, sometimes rhetorically and sometimes with genuine curiosity. Why are drivers willing to drive with no more visibility than someone squinting into a keyhole?

I'm sure the drivers themselves would say the issue is time: They're late. They have a meeting in three minutes. They're having surgery. They're performing surgery. They're on their way to the airport. And scraping takes too much time.

You'll think I'm a perfect driver, or that I suppose myself to be, and this is so not true. I'm not a terrible driver, not a person who's racked up more DUIs than there are keys on my laptop. I don't, speaking of keyboards, text while driving, or let a 45-pound dog sit on my lap, or do anything more complicated than take an occasional gulp of water from my bottle. I don't speed or creep along like an injured turtle or weave from lane to lane. I just drive.

But that's enough of an accomplishment, I figure. As I've mentioned before, I came late to driving, and even after I got my license - on the first try, just for the record - I was cautious to the point of hilarity. As a newish resident of rural Delaware, with a baby in a carrier, I told myself that I wouldn't risk driving all the way into town, where traffic was heavy - I remind you that I'm talking about Delaware, Ohio, here, not greater metropolitan New York - and where I might have to parallel park. My plan, at least briefly, was to park on some safe side street several blocks from the (ahem) business district and hike in from there.

Of course I didn't do that. Not even once. I'm far too impatient and far too, at the end of the day, sensible to engage in such neurotic behavior. But I continue to respect the whole business of driving and to remember, even as I'm singing along with the Indigo Girls, that the darkness has a hunger that's insatiable. And it really would be crazy not to give myself every advantage: a full-sized windshield. A slower speed in snow. Mittens tucked into a little dashboard nook.

I know what you're thinking, of course: Even so. Even so, anything can happen. That's true, but I'd hate, along with other injuries, to be kicking myself all the way to the hospital. So I do what I can.

Write Margo Bartlett at