Friday, January 17, 2020

Winter On The High Plains

 Trying To Get Home From Work


It's no secret that I hate winter. What's to like? Ooh, the snow is so fun to play in! said no one. First of all, I don't play, unless one counts donning three layers of clothing, bundling up my dog and stealing down the icy front steps to do what it takes her all of five seconds to do as "play".

So why do I live in Minnesota? Why does anyone live anywhere? I don't have the means to take me wherever whimsy leads me; and I have a job. I grew up on the high plains (happily not in Minnesota), so I should be, and am, used to winter. I still haven't grown fond of it.

I surely don't want to move to tornado alley or hurricane-central, so everyone has their burdens to bear. It's just that winter is approximately six months long. When I was a kid I divided the twelve months of the year into four seasons. Kids are gullible. The truth is, spring and fall comprise one month each, summer is three months, tops. That leaves...yikes, actually seven months that are in actuality winter. So when October rolls around, I start watching the weather forecast, for all the good that does me, and laying out my winter wardrobe. It's always a smorgasbord of possibilities ~ snow, minus twenty-degree wind chills, ice, blustery gale-force winds; and generally a combination of one or two or three.

A typical work conversation goes like this:

"Has anyone seen an updated forecast?"

"I heard four to six inches."

"Really? Online, I saw six to ten!"

"I should ask for tomorrow off."

"I don't know. It should be okay driving in. I'm just worried about the drive home."

"You never know. It depends on what time it starts."

"I really should ask for tomorrow off."

I've had this exact same conversation approximately ten thousand two hundred and fifty-nine times.

If I have the luxury of requesting the day off, I take it. But that's not always possible. Sometimes I have actual responsibilities, believe it or not. A few years ago my husband drove me (or slid us) to work on ice-slickened roads because I had a training class of two people and what would they do if I didn't show up? Turns out both of my trainees called in due to weather, and we had risked death for no Godly reason.

And I submit that "weather forecasting" is a racket. Nobody wants to commit, because loathe as they are to admit it, they're just guessing. I did ask for today off, because my workplace is not in crisis mode, and the forecast calls for six to ten inches of snow. That means we'll maybe get three.

For an area that experiences multitudes of these events every winter, our TV weather people are oddly disinterested. Maybe they've been worn down by constantly being wrong; maybe "weather person" is the dregs of local news. Try to catch the latest forecast and one is greeted with what yesterday's temps and winds were. I'd respect them more if they simply shrugged and said, "Your guess is as good as mine."

The upside of a snowstorm is if one is able to anticipate it and gird for it, it can be relatively stress-free, snug, and excuse-ready (I can't do that. Don't you know there's a storm out there?) What one needs is plenty of comfort food, enough beverages of choice, a cozy blanket, cable or Netflix, a strong internet connection, a craft project or a good book. One must plan ahead. Just don't rely on your local meteorologist to forewarn you. They're too busy being hazed in the back office by the sports guy.

In the pantheon of songwriting, few songs have been penned about winter. The ones we're familiar with are mostly clinically depressing or are about cold graves. Winter is gloomy enough; I don't need to hear about someone gazing in the mirror as mascara-stained tears streak down their cheeks.

Leave it to Paul Simon, however, Here's one I actually like:

When I awake tomorrow morning, the snow will obscure my door stop. I'll pull on my snow boots, hat, down coat and gloves, velcro Josie's pink plaid coat around her tummy and head on out. When we return, I'll pour myself a cup of fresh-brewed Joe and anticipate a waffle-and-bacon breakfast; then pull the comforter around me and bless the fact that I'm warm and cozy inside, and that it's only Saturday. I have no place to be.

All in all, though, I'd trade a Minnesota winter for whatever you've got to offer.

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