You've seen them. They already have their ski racks mounted to their car roofs.

You've probably smelled them, too. They're the ones with hot chocolate on their breaths.And no doubt you've heard them as well. They're constantly mumbling something about "a nip in the air" and that "it won't be much longer now."

That's right, folks. We're surrounded by displaced Eskimos doing their best to will summer's demise so they can welcome the onslaught of winter.

They're probably the same ones who will be putting their Christmas trees up the day after Halloween and donning shorts and sunglasses as soon as the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue hits the newsstands next February.

So far, the cooling temperatures don't seem to need any of these people's encouragement. Summer doesn't officially end until Friday, but we're already firing up our furnaces to avoid freezing our fannies in the morning.

Apparently, one of the state's driest summers on rec-ord is going to be followed by one of the shortest falls on record. If you suspect a conspiracy between Mountain Fuel and our hurry-along-the-season friends, you're probably right.

OK. I'll admit it. This is a biased column. It's one-sided. It's not balanced. Why? Because I hate winter.

I hate snow and ice. I hate the feel of cold tile under my feet. I hate having to warm up my car. I hate gloves and thick coats. I hate slick roads. I hate naked trees. I hate the waning daylight hours. I hate saying goodbye to my garden.

That's not all. I hate getting my tongue stuck on frozen metal poles. I hate snowballs in the eye. I hate being impaled by icicles. And I hate seeing my breath when I haven't even been to a Chinese or Mexican restaurant.

I guess I spent too many years in Arizona, where they do summer right and where winter means little more than turning down the cooler and unrolling your shirt sleeves.

I'd rather have a high water bill than a high fuel bill. I'd rather have skunks in my yard than snow. And I'd rather mow the grass than scrape the driveway.

Unless we get a reprieve from an Indian summer, it's likely the number of warm days remaining in the year are numbered. But summer doesn't officially end until Friday, so don't be in such a hurry to mothball your barbecue.

There's still time to eat some ice cream and go barefoot. And if you hurry, you might even be able to find one last sunset to tide you over until next spring. Until then, pass the hot chocolate.