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Several days recently I've noticed heating/cooling company trucks in driveways, and my guess is that the crews aren't there installing air-conditioning systems.

Rather, this is the time of year when stuff needs fixing – whether it's a furnace, coat zipper or broken handle on the storm door.

Winter is rough on things.

Car batteries die. Snow shovels break. Pocket linings tear. Gloves – if we manage to not lose one in a parking lot – get holes in the fingers.

Look around outside and you'll see downed tree branches, beat-up roadside mailboxes, broken fences, tipped-over garbage cans and soggy papers stuck in shrubs.

We haven't had that bad a winter, but things still need fixing.

I know people who, in recent weeks, have been dealing with a deteriorating water heater, leaking ceilings blamed on ice and an uncooperative exterior door lock.

Not that everything is rosy at our house. Our electric garage door broke this week – a minor inconvenience, to be sure. Its demise didn't happen all at once. First it wouldn't go all the way down. Then it wouldn't go all the way up. Then it simply wouldn't do anything. It had to be fixed.

While spending more time near the garage talking nicely to the door (maybe it will fix itself?), I couldn't help but notice other things that will need fixing in the spring. I saw tire tracks in the grass near the driveway. Peeling paint on the porch pillars. A mailbox on a post leaning a little off to one side.

At one point, when I reached down to fasten my coat, I was reminded that a button was missing. Something else to fix, I sighed, trying to remember where I had stashed it.

Cars can be a challenge in the winter, of course, if not mechanically then at least in keeping them somewhat free of salt and dirt. At the end of a recent scheduled maintenance visit to my dealer, I returned to retrieve my vehicle and saw that it had been washed. Forget any talk about rotating tires and changing oil. My car was shiny and new again! I was so happy.

“You washed my car!” I squealed, my voice echoing through the garage. I wanted to hug the guy handing me the paperwork.

Another man in my life, the one who repairs my broken shoes and handbags, currently is reattaching the handles to my favorite black tote. In the meantime, I'm carrying my stuff around in a supermarket shopping bag. Lovely.

Sure, I may see him during the spring and summer months, but not as often as I need him to repair a boot or bag in the winter.

When I return to pick up my tote, I'll ask him if he found my coat button inside it.

email: smartin@buffnews.com