This winter has been a good one to teach me perspective.

It's a little after 5 a.m. Tuesday. I have been awake for almost an hour. The dog wanted out and I couldn't sleep while listening to his low volume but high pitched whine coming from the children's gate into the living room.

Joe is a yellow Lab and I think he is getting acclimated to the cold better than I am. He is actually enjoying his fenced in back yard in spite of the near zero temperatures at night. Last winter, 20-degree cold made him take care of business and hurry back inside in a matter of minutes. Now, Linda has to go out and bring him in. She is afraid he will freeze before he gets from the back of our property to the door.

I just checked the Internet. Not only is the winter storm warning in effect today through Wednesday but a special weather statement reads there was a freezing fog expected overnight Monday night.

OK. So, why issue a weather statement for that?

I'm like the dog. I am getting acclimated to the weather in specific and to life in general.

At 61 I'm not elderly. Far from it. I think of myself as mature. I certainly don't plan to retire until I absolutely have to - many years down the road, I hope. Maybe 60 is the new 50.

Or, as someone else said, "Age is mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." And I don't mind.

Not like my 30th birthday when I got the blues. When you turn 30, you have to grow up, I thought. Now I'm like Peter Pan -- I don't intend to ever grow up. Not grow old, anyway.

This winter, we have dug out of snow banks, have been pulled out by a tow truck, paid to have our drive plowed out, been glued to The Paper"s website for the latest weather watches and warnings and in general have paid much more attention to the weather than we did for the last several years.

Children's perspectives change. When they are babies, it's easy to entertain them with an interesting object they can follow with their eyes or put into their mouths. By the time they are teens, it takes electronic gadgets to keep them occupied. My age? I have to look around and wonder why a town meeting at Waveland draws so many people when most of the time a handful of people show up for meetings in Crawfordsville much less in the smaller towns. I pour a cup of coffee and sit down at the keyboard in my home office and write columns about life's perspectives and the weather. The thinking and writing part is as much fun today as the toys used to be.

Perspective also teaches us the answers to life's questions aren't as easy as we used to think they were.

When I call an elected official or someone else in authority, I am usually talking to someone close to my age and, usually, it is someone I have known for years and years. They know and I know we make decisions to the best of our ability because we have to live with the results of those decisions. I'm still a smart aleck (it's not proper to use the three-letter word instead of "aleck" in the paper) but I'm not as judgmental as I used to be. Oh sure, there are people like Gov. Christie of New Jersey and the druggie mayor of Toronto whose judgments need to be called into question. All of our elected officials need to know they are under the scrutiny of the public who reads our news stories and columns, but I'm not as quick to think they should have all the answers as I once did.

Well, this is going longer than it should. Hopefully someone will read it and carefully edit it before you see it.

I'm no longer like the woman who once told me, "God gives me the words I write. Who are you to edit them?"

Life brings perspective.



Frank Phillips has been a writer of newspaper and magazine articles for 43 years. His opinions are his own, not those of this newspaper. But his opinions can be changed. His e-mail address is frank@thepaper24-7.com.