Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it STOP
By: John Shepler
Snow, snow, glorious snow,
It's the new year and we're snowed in. Outside the north winds are howling and snowflakes are dashing in all directions. It's the biggest snowstorm to forge up the Mississippi Valley in 20 years, a white hurricane from the sound of it. In Chicago, they measure 22 inches at O'Hare airport when the last of the flakes has settled. That's a record. My driveway has disappeared under a blanket of just under a foot on average. I say average, because in some places you can see the asphalt and others are deep enough to intimidate even a large two stage snowthrower. Well, it's time to make another run at it.
The dormant earth is somewhere below.
Saturday was cocooning day. We knew the storm was coming. You could see it massing on the satellite photos. Sometimes I think they overdramatize the weather forecasts just to make sure you pay attention, but this one was exactly as predicted. Down it came in fine little sparkling crystals. More and more and more, until decks and patios disappeared and country roads became treacherous, then impassable. I bundled up like one of those scientists living at the South Pole and ventured out for the first clearing of the driveway. Inside, Barbara has smothered steak brewing in the crockpot. I can't wait to get back in for another whiff of that aroma and a chance to play Scrabble and catch some good movies. Prophetically, we've just signed up for all the pay channels on cable.
Peek out the window, enjoy the show,
What's the best thing to do when you're about to be trapped in your house by the forces of nature? Stay there! If cabin fever strikes...fight it. Put some logs in the fireplace (great atmosphere and really valuable if you lose power), light some candles, turn on the TV or the computer and get out the board games and playing cards. Incredibly, the next day often breaks with sunshine and blue skies. The plows have cleared your street, visibility is unlimited and stores and restaurants have reopened. The impassable snowstorm has been replaced by a glimmering white environment that beckons you to grab the sunglasses and venture out. On Sunday morning, I bundle up again and head out for the second clearing of the driveway.
Neighborhood theater, staged in the cold,
The best neighborhood camaraderie is often right after a major storm. You have a common cause. Everyone is out clearing sidewalks and driveways, brushing snow off cars. Kids and dogs take to the yards and streets. If it's not bitter cold, then it's high time for snowmen, snow angels, snow forts and snowball fights. You can build a castle or an igloo. Carve ice sculptures. Put on your snowshoes or cross country skis and take to the forest preserves. Nature is often at her most beautiful in a new winter coat.
Ice sculpted trees, all in a row,
Snowstorms are only fun when you're prepared and have safe haven for the duration. This year's record breaking New Year's storm will be especially memorable because it did strike on the holiday travel weekend, closing airports and highways, stranding many. It also caught us out of practice, with hardly a flake's worth of snow experience this season. We'll do better next time...although I'm sure we can be very patient in waiting for the next storm.
Whiteout of the mind is something we know,
Robert Frost found a sense of magic in a woodland winter snowfall in his poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." I hope I've been able to capture a bit of our modern city experience with my own "Glorious Snow!" Please have a safe and enjoyable winter season.
Books of Interest:
Storm of the Century by Stephen King. If you think winter's bad where you are, read what happens to the people on Little Tall Island. Just as the worst Nor'easter in memory bears down on the island, an even greater evil in the form of Andre Linoge takes his first victim, an elderly resident. "Give me what I want and I'll go away," he calmly proclaims as the killings continue. But what is it he wants, and when will he bargain in good faith? As the townspeople group to form a strategy, the electric generator for the island begins to sputt.......
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Make Your Own Snowflake - This interactive online project lets you cut out your own virtual paper snowflake and then post it online or download it to make a real paper snowflake. You can even buy a stamp of your design, if you like.
Copyright 1998 - 2017 by John E. Shepler. Contact me at: John (at) JohnShepler.com
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First Published: January 3, 1999 as part of A Positive Light