Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snow Storms

I've always liked a hearty snowstorm. The snow swirling about, the hope of no school the next day, lighting the fireplace and snuggling under a cozy comforter with a hot drink.

When I was in 7th grade we lived in Glenwood, Illinois, which is about 30 miles south of Chicago. One winter day school was closed early due to a fierce snow storm. A friend and I struggled to walk home from school. Many people in our subdivision worked in the city and ended up stranded there for days. Some children at our school could not make it home so my father and I made it to the school and brought a girl home with us until her family could reach her. The snow accumulation was such that Illinois had to borrow plow equipment from Wisconsin to dig out and that digging out took several days. People were unable to make it to work, grocery stores, or school.

This is an actual photo from that 1967 Chicago blizzard.

Our family socialized with two neighbors. The Rimsniders had 9 children. The other couple, whose names I don't remember, had a baby and the husband was stranded in Chicago. In order to "survive" the hardship of the storm, the three families pooled food, made meals together and ate together. It all had quite a festive atmosphere, and my parents still talk of it today. To illustrate the "hardships" suffered during the days we were all stuck at home my father tells the story of how the oldest Rimsnider boy, Gib, complained that the butter wouldn't melt on his mashed potatoes because they weren't hot enough.

We moved to Wisconsin when I was a freshman in high school and I have fond memories of friends and I walking at night in snowstorms. We seemed to be able to predict when school would be canceled due to snow so we would head out and walk around in the falling snow.

I taught in Burlington, WI, from 1977 - 1980, and there was a snowstorm that canceled school for 3 days in a row. It was the first time I could remember being notified the day before that school would be canceled the next day! If memory serves me correctly, the drifting in the country was so bad the roads just couldn't stay clear. Can't say I was disappointed not to have to make the drive from Milwaukee to Burlington those three days.

The last significant storm I remember was also when living in Milwaukee during that above time period. Right before Christmas my fiance landed in the hospital after being hit in the eye with a raquet ball. He had to lay still (they valiumed him up) and remained in the hospital for about a week. On Christmas Eve his parents drove down to see him and headed back to NL. I left Milwaukee shortly after them so I could be with my family for Christmas. Mike was so drugged up he didn't even remember his parents or my visit so I'm pretty sure he didn't even know it was Christmas Eve. A snow storm was hitting the state hard that night and I drove from Milwaukee to NL in my sturdy little Datsun B-210. I passed cars in the ditch but that little car stayed the course and made it to NL without an incident.

After that storm it seemed winter weather was not inclined to snow storms anymore. We had many a winter with little snow and few snow storms. The last few years, though, we are back on track and getting quite a bit of snow. On Thursday this week it snowed all day and while it wasn't a full blown snow storm it was good enough for me.

In the spring and summer I love a powerful thunderstorm. Although I am not a fan of lightening (I have a healthy respect and fear of electricity), I love the driving rain, thunder and darkness of a thunderstorm. Since the climate is changing, for whatever reason, we managed to have thunder a week ago. Nothing like thunder in January as a way for Mother Nature to say, "Hi, ya'll -- see, the times they are a changin'."

Weather is one of the forces man has yet to conquer and sometimes humans forget their vulnerabilities. Storms remind me that their are forces out there still out of man's control and that if we don't have respect for Mother Nature, she will humble us pretty quickly.

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