If there’s one commonality between us all, no matter the background or belief, it’s that we love weather. We love talking about it, we love watching entire channels devoted to it and we love reading about it. Well, I’m about to help you out with the last one because this last week we all finally got a dose of the winter that many of us felt like we were being deprived of.
Personally, I love it cold. I also love all the things that go with it: rain, wind, storms, sleet, ice, and yes, even snow. And boy howdy did we finally get some snow. And just in time. The holidays were great, as they always are, but the post-Christmas, post-New Year’s funk hit me harder than usual this time around and the last few weeks have found me shuffling around with a dull, leave-me-alone expression on my face as I slowly baked in the always-too-hot-for-my-taste JG-TC newsroom. Seriously, I had a desk fan blowing on me at one point.
There’s nothing like an upcoming “snow event” to generate a certain kind of electricity in the newsroom of a small town newspaper. You might have even experienced some of that madness yourself -- watching people fight over the last of the ground beef and the bread at the grocery store once the forecast became pretty much final. If there’s any statement one could make about us as a society, it’s our tendency to turn to beef when the world is out of control.
Last Friday night I got off work and with the snow hours away I went by the gas station to buy a freezer pizza (at slightly inflated prices, but I consider that a convenience fee) because I wasn’t going to put some poor delivery person at risk on Saturday just because I knew I was going to want some ‘Za for dinner. I then retreated to Castle Clint and proceeded to spend the entire evening bouncing from window to window waiting for the snow to start. No lie, I was more excited for this than I was for Christmas.
And as the snow finally began to drift on down just as my late night energy drink was kicking in, I took a moment to enjoy watching folks continue to go speeding by outside. Sure, it hadn’t been snowing that long at that point so conditions were yet to be a problem, but you could almost sense that the people who were still driving late evening Friday were doing so with a purpose; almost as if they knew it was their last chance to get that ground beef home before the snow finally started to collect. I even got a text from my mom the next morning making sure I had “milk and bread for sandwiches.” Folks…it’s a few inches of snow, not life on the Oregon Trail.
Weather incidents are a lot like that; they all give us stories to tell. And in a small town where most days tend to seem the same, barring the occasional good days and bad days, you can depend on the weather being the great disruptor. And you can count that you’re going to walk out of it with a story you’re going to want to tell someday. Example? I’m sure everyone out there remembers the snow rollers, right? If not, enjoy this snippet from the Feb. 13, 2003, Journal Gazette, which I bring to you mostly because I don’t remember a blasted thing about the snow rollers other than they happened and that it was a big deal. How did I know? Well, the weather folks talked about it on TV, and because I saw it on the front page of the newspaper. No matter, I’m sure you remember the snow rollers in much greater detail than I can, or at least you know someone who does.
More incidents of winter weather happenings past come to mind; stray memories of an ice storm that rolled through when I was a kid that turned that long sidewalk that extended at a 45-degree angle down the big hill at our house in Cooks Mills into a Slip And Slide of doom which would have been fun to try out except it would have sent you flying into a small pile of cinder blocks next to the burn barrel.
And there was the time a snowstorm hit so quickly during my Junior High days that the bus drivers were ordered to drop everyone off at the High School with no notice and pretty much drove off leaving many seventh-graders standing there dazed in the land of the upperclassmen. I’m not quite sure I remember how I got ahold of my dad to fire up the Chevy Blazer to pick me up, but I’m sure it involved making a call from the payphones next to the Guidance Offices. I shall remain eternally grateful to Mark Nelson for graciously breaking a five so I could get a snack from the machines in the Commons while I waited for the blue Chevy Behemoth to come rolling around the circle drive.
And just when I thought I wouldn’t have a button to put on the end of this current weather cycle, the day I started writing this article I slipped and fell on the ice in the mall parking lot. And this wasn’t just a thin glaze of ice either -- I’m talking a several inches thick plate of it formed from an un-shoveled patch of snow that cars had rolled through, forming deep ruts that refroze into uneven ridges of solid ice. And I went down hard; at least hard enough that I just knew it was going to take me a few minutes to get back up again. And as I laid there in the rutted, dirty ice next to the dumpsters, making sure I didn’t shatter my left elbow and seriously considering if I would have been within my rights to sue someone if I had, I looked up at that winter sky hanging there above me and realized, “Oh yeah…I remember the time I saw those 'Sun Dogs' in the sky a few years ago!”
As of this writing, “Winter Storm Harper” is rapidly approaching. It may already be coming down as you’re reading this Saturday morning. If so, keep your head on a swivel out there, step lively, and make sure you’re stocked up on beef. Why anyone would need milk to make sandwiches shall remain a question unanswered.