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Renegade Chef: Gather ye acorns while ye may

It happens every year. There are no surprises. It is getting darker and colder. And, if you didn't get the memo, winter is coming.

So why do so many of us fall into a state of shock when it happens?

They say humans are the smartest creatures on earth, yet it's the squirrels and chipmunks that have the common sense to plan ahead, burrow deeper for warmth and stock their winter larders with acorns and nuts.

And, when is the last time you heard a squirrel exclaim, "Holy oak tree, Batman! What's this frozen white stuff falling from the sky?"

During the season's first snowfall, my dog - who is much smarter than me - escaped in the darkness. Knowing his love of beer and comradery, I immediately hopped in my car and drove to Ye Olde Pickle Factory. He wasn't there, but I figured I better stick around for awhile in case he showed up, so I ordered a beer.

Conversation among the bar patrons was dominated by politics. It was the night after the election and the Republicans giddily clinked their glasses together in victory celebration, while the Democrats moped in their beer - at least, that's what I thought.

It turns out the giddy, happy people were not necessarily Republicans. They were snowplow operators. And the folks crying in their suds were doing so because they had long driveways and not because there had been a political shift in power.

The fresh snowfall had some folks pleasantly surprised and others deeply shocked and disappointed. Outside the bar, the squirrels and chipmunks slept contentedly in their warm nests, happily buzzed on discarded, booze-soaked filberts they'd been hording for weeks.

When I woke up the next morning and looked out the window, I realized I was one of those people. I am the poster child for procrastination. Two inches of wet crud covered my partially raked lawn and the massive pile of leaves looked like a very bad attempt at constructing an igloo. The word "November" at the top of my calendar had obviously been meaningless.

Of course, my dog had to rub it in. He had fooled me the night before by going to the Legion Club rather than the Pickle. He also won a hundred bucks on pull-tabs.

And as he sat in his favorite chair, wearing a Hugh Hefner smoking jacket, sipping his morning coffee and lazily looking out onto the season's first snow, he yawned and smugly said, "Cheer up, old sport. It's not necessarily true that squirrels, chipmunks and dogs are smarter than you. We just have enough common sense to watch the Weather Channel."

I wish these crafty critters could help me prepare the following recipes, but I forgot to buy the ingredients, my car is out of gas and I'm just not ready to deal with snow.

Hey, nobody told me winter was coming.

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