#4, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

26 Pickup, the Half-Ton

It seems like there’s an awful lot of snow in your books, and I’ve heard you profess that winter is your favorite time of the year–I was just wondering why?

-Patricia Simmons

Hi Patricia,

Well, Walt and I live in northern Wyoming where they say there’s only two seasons—winter and the 4th of July, and it sometimes snows on the 4th of July. 

​The old saying goes that you can always put enough on to stay warm, but you can never take enough off to stay cool, and I guess I subscribe to that thought. Most of the ranch work I do requires a certain amount of sweat equity and I’d just as soon do it when it’s cool and that includes the writing.

Edited in Prisma app with Golden Hour

​My wife says my thermostat is broken, that I don’t even know when it’s cold, which could be true. I did a lot of mountaineering when I was young–still do a bit to this day, and nothing will toughen you to cold as much as sixty degrees below zero at 18,000 feet.

I do a lot of speaking events, but they tend to die down a bit in the winter simply because traveling becomes problematic. The first tour Viking/Penguin did with me for The Cold Dish had me flying in and out of Sheridan about four times. I finally had to tell them back in New York that I was going to get stuck somewhere, either here or there. They agreed, and the first book tour I did was in my four-wheel-drive pickup where I had an event during a blizzard in Missoula where one guy showed up. Well, two, including me…

​There are so many things that need to be taken care of here at the ranch when the weather allows, so summer is usually the time when I get the least amount of writing done. I’m happiest when I’m writing and that usually means winter, becausenobody yells at you when you stay inside because it is forty below outside, so I can write without guilt.

I guess it comes down to a work ethic, never mind that I don’t consider writing so much of a chore. I really enjoy it, andwhen the world shuts down here in Wyoming, I have a great excuse to stay in and do my job. 

I think there’s a romance to a crackling fire and the tapping of the keyboard that applies to me and the work. Every fall I get about two semi-loads of log lengths brought in and then block, split, and stack them; it keeps me in shape and as they say, warms you twice. I’ve got wood-burning stoves and fireplaces scattered all over the ranch so can keep the place comfortable even in the worst weather—power or no power. I no longer run cattle, so its just a question of keeping the horses fed and warm, which doesn’t take up too much of the day; besides, who would I talk to about the writing if it weren’t them?

​We have a Bernese Mountain Dog, Annie, who sometimes takes walks with me on the ranch while Judy stays back by the fire but nine times out of ten, she runs off back to the house and leaves me out there alone. Usually, when I get back home, I find her and Judy sitting on the sofa next to the wood burning stove, the two of them nice and toasty, wrapped up in a Pendleton blanket. 

​Man’s best friend.

See you on the trail,



One thought on “#4, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

  1. August in south Florida makes me hungry for the books with lots of snow. Two semis of wood to be split and stacked though – good heavens – once that is done a winter inside is all a person could handle. As always, these little vignettes transport me to WY ( where I have only been once for Longmire Days at TA Ranch) and to a fascinating world that I seem to miss. Thanks


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