This is the quiet time of year.

I don’t want to say this is the good time of year, nor would it be fair to call it the bad time of year. It is, however, the winter time of year, time to re-tool, re-boot, re-orient as the dark nights and cold weather (and occasional slippery, if not epic, precipitation) force a winter plan to be made.

I’m going to try to read more this winter. Oh, I read a lot as it is, but winter’s always the time where those books that’ve been bouncing around on my car’s back seat finally have their due. I suppose that’s my way of warning y’all that it’s possible the column will take a more literary bent as words-boy runs through the various readings he favors, but at the same time I expect you’ll find that out soon enough.

With the elections over we have the various elected getting ready to take office. Not a lot of conversation during these times. A time gap here between gaining the office and fitting into the chair and – frankly – some reporter banging on them while they work through this transition doesn’t do anyone any favors, least of all the reporter, who can turn himself from a public servant to an item of dread just by knocking on the door too hard or too often. So I keep clear. No sense starting off the relationship with my being an object of dread.

So yeah, up to this point you could say “So less stories?” and I could see why you would. But no, no less stories, just different stories, deeper digs.

Budgets are coming in now. Over here in Van Buren County the county is in an especially – let’s not say “tough,” let’s say “difficult” – space here as it works through depleting budget projection numbers and not-depleting costs. The situation is likely going to wind up with some people, one or two people anyway, losing their position. It’s either that or some level of service will have to be rolled back.

I don’t, at these times, envy the public servants, the elected officials, working through these things. A rural community like this, everybody knows everybody, and layoffs, if they come, hurt someone you know.

And speaking of public servants, we have the various public servants, the first responders and law enforcement, working during this quiet time of year. Winter’s slippery paths lead to more falls, Van Buren County leans aging in its population, and the math isn’t all that hard as late-night calls for an ambulance go out after a slip on the ice.

Police too, the darkness of the winter months seems to bring out the worst in people (seems to bring out the worst people) and the attendant calls to protect and serve.

And excuse me, it was getting a bit maudlin there, a bit foreboding. After all, this will be the time of year feet up by the heat, a good book, not going outside because it’s slick and dark out there and in here is a good book and warmth. It will be pleasant, a series of holidays which emphasize time with family and friends before the brunt of winter hits. By then we’ll have the warm memories to help steel us against the darkening cold.