Long winter leaves family sick of snow, dreaming of Arizona

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 27, 2001

If you still love winter and can’t get enough of the freezing rain, snow and wind we’ve been afflicted with this year, don’t read this column.

Tuesday, February 27, 2001

If you still love winter and can’t get enough of the freezing rain, snow and wind we’ve been afflicted with this year, don’t read this column. It’s full of whining and other pathetic noises made by someone who grew up in a place without snow and ice. Trust me, it’ll just raise your blood pressure.

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But frankly, I don’t care much for winter at the moment. I’m sick and tired of driving on ice, through the snow snakes, wondering whether I’ll make it home this time or not. I’m sick and tired of being stuck at home or having to quickly rearrange my schedule in response to bad weather. I’m sick and tired of snow throwers and snow shovels, of cars frozen to the floor of the garage, of icy steps and sidewalks, and of canceled classes and worship services. I no longer find the interplay of light and shadow on the snow drifts around our house to be intriguing or beautiful. As much as I hate to admit it, moving back to Arizona doesn’t sound all that terrible anymore.

Living in the country only makes things worse. This past Sunday I had planned on taking the kids to meet their aunt and uncle in Northfield and take in a concert at St. Olaf College. Because of the bad weather, though, we had to cancel. Not only was I-35 closed between here and Faribault, but with no snowplows out on county roads, we would have had to be driving a Humvee or a bombardier just to travel the half-mile between our house and the nearest blacktopped road. And there was no guarantee that the county black tops would be in any better shape than the gravel road that runs by our house. It was safer to stay home.

The irony is that the weather improved right about the time the concert would have been starting. Isn’t that the way it always is?

And the snowplow really wouldn’t have helped all that much, anyway. With the freezing rain we’ve had, all the snowplow really does when it comes through is polish up the ice for us. It’s even become difficult to walk across the road to get the mail and newspaper, if they manage to show up at all – not a given this winter (although I can’t say I blame them for not trying to reach our house since junk mail and sale flyers are not worth risking lives for). And when the weather is bad enough for Sunday school and worship services at our church to be canceled, we can go an entire weekend without seeing anybody.

At this point we’ve played all the games. We’ve watched all the movies (again and again and again). We’re pretty sick and tired of each other, sometimes. And there’s no escape except out into the blowing snow. Life becomes dark and thoughts become even darker. There’s a line from a song about winter by the Finnish composer, Aulis Sallinen, which tells us that one winter was so hard that &uot;even money was frozen in the bank.&uot; And that &uot;Saturday evening could only be celebrated/every other Saturday.&uot; And another song by the group Split Enz says that in the winter &uot;downstairs/in the cellar/drums are beating&uot; and goes on to tell the story of Mad Old Jim, found in his cabin with his head caved in: &uot;waiting out the winter/was a little too much for him.&uot; Maybe things haven’t been that bad here …

Hopes for a spring filled with green and growing things are what keep me from going completely insane. I dream of gardening, of watching crops being planted, and of kids playing hopscotch and shooting hoops outside on the patio. The most excellent thing about winter, after all, is that it can’t last forever. Eventually the planet tilts, the sun shines, the snow melts, and we can all put away our coats (and our dreams of Arizona) for another year.



Correction: Paul Jensen of Alden caught my error in last week’s column, as did others. The gun turret on the USS Iowa exploded, killing several sailors, not on the USS Missouri. It’s an especially egregious error, as I have an encyclopedia installed on my computer and could have checked the facts quite easily. I apologize for the mistake.

Mr. Jensen also wrote some other things with which I don’t agree. I am well aware that anyone who writes about the U.S. military and doesn’t end by saying how wonderful they are runs the risk of being called &uot;unpatriotic&uot; or &uot;ungrateful.&uot; Since Mr. Jensen was not a member of our household when my father had to decide between telling the truth or telling what he had been told to say, I will respectfully suggest that saying my family suffers from &uot;sour grapes&uot; is both untrue and unfair.