Friday, December 11, 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Hmmm...it's cold outside. It's cold enough that if we aren't working on something in the kitchen, the woodstove just isn't keeping up around here. The 'pro' in this is I'm still warmer than most of the country with these wild temps that finally made a showing after how many years...it's been a while since most of the country has had a real, old fashioned kind of winter. And from all accounts, they are certainly getting it this year. And this southern cold isn't long-lasting, even if my old-timer neighbors are bemoaning one of the colder snaps to hit the area since the ice storm of '94. We are said to be reaching back to the upper 40's, dare I say perhaps a day of the low 60's, before midweek.

Sure, I don't live up there in the northern climate right now, but I'm not so far removed that I don't remember what real winter is like, folks. Some of these news clips are just funny. Now, don't get me wrong, there is alot going on up in just about all of the midwest and the eatern regions that isn't funny at all. There are numerous power outages, folks using very unsafe methods of keeping their homes warm, etc. There are so many accidents with travel and just staying home. Shelters are filliing because of the intensity of the storms and the intensity of cold, paired with power outages.

But for most folks who have lived up in a northern region for even a portion of their life beyond, say 10 years, this is winter. This is the winter most of us/them recall from childhood. This is what winter in the northern regions looks like and feels like. No, it hasn't been like this in a long time. Really heavy snows, really really cold temps not even counting the wind chill factor...that's what winter is. From listening to some of the 'reality news folks' they seem to have gathered for broadcast, you'd think that a storm on even half this scale has never been seen in their lifetime. Oh my Lord, we need help here. Armageddon is at hand. It's as bad as when something big like a tornado hits around the southern area, they seem to find the most illiterate, dictionary-challenged yahoo they can to tell the world what happened. They are wanting to make it far more news-worthy than it is in real life.

I'm not poking fun, really I'm not (good grief, wanna talk dictionary-challenged yahoos...they are NOT some southern specialty at all. I think we actually exported our northern fools here). But, I digress...

Winter is snow
. Used to be it was A LOT of snow, and it wasn't pretty fluffy stuff...it was a thick layer of iced over hardness with many inches of the heaviest snow you can remember packed on top. You didn't shovel the walk easily -- you did it in layers, usually pretty thin layers. And it was a rather time-intensive project to boot. Forget the drive. If there wasn't an actual snowplow on your truck (or better yet, a tractor), you waited for someone else to find time to help. You had no one strong enough (or stupid enough) to get outside and attempt to clear the end of the driveway between road crews packing more sludge into an already large pile. We literally waited on my grandmother one year...not to shovel, but she climbed up the outside of the piled snow at the road, and my mom climbed up our side...grandma delivered some bread and milk. LOL...sounds like one of those "walked 5 miles in a blizzard, uphill both ways" kind of stories, but it's what happened. Our tailer was on a curve and no matter which direction they came down our narrow roadway, they tilted that blasted plow to push the snow into our driveway. It was packed pretty solid in no time. And had some decent sledding height to it as well.

And, yes, I can say with experience and honesty, that typically, those stuck driving the plows in the small rural areas aren't the brightest bulbs in the box. It's not their fault, really -- they are usually given the dregs of the county machinery to operate, plowing for hours and hours without a break and without much for in-cab heating. They are out there well before daylight even thinks of making an appearance, all so the yuppies and upstarts don't start crying to the road commissioner too early in the day. They aren't stupid...they are just a bit dulled by the lack of heat and the lack of courtesy they encounter every minute of their day. Folks don't park on the proper side on the proper day for snow removal, folks don't for one minute give them any right of way as they try to navigate those narrow roads, those sharp curves, those blind intersections, they are flipped off (and worse) continually. And they work on less sleep than most common folk can imagine. All to clear your highways and salt/sand your roads before you have to get out and travel. Which of course, few of you even need to do in the first place...you just want to show that you are tough and make your appearance for the day...usually so you can martyr yourselves later with tales of your heroism on the treacherous roads. Don't get angry at your description. You aren't alone. I've been there, I've done that. It's part of the stupidity that we go through every winter just to keep ourselves going.

Winter is cold. You have wind chills that take your breath away just standing too close to the window. You have ice layers you can't even see, let alone navigate by foot or tire alone. Then you get the snow pack, and then more ice as it 'warms' a bit in the day, just to refreeze again overnight. Then more snow on top of that. In most true winters, that scene just repeats itself and you get plenty used to it between December (sometimes November) until at least February (sometimes March...late).

Either way, winter is not what most of these areas has had for a handful of years. When we moved, 5 years ago this spring, we hadn't had a really good, normal winter in several years really. Seems, listening to the by-standers on the streets in Chicago, Madison and even New York, they have long forgotten what the definition of winter is in the north. I can understand some of the Prairie states, who generally get the same weather but in a bit more of a hit-n-run fashion forgetting the intensity, but Chicago and Buffalo? C'mon folks. Pull up the long johns, layer on some flannel and get back out there. Show your resilience. Show that fortitude that built the North. At least do your crying inside the privacy of your home with the curtains pulled (for added warmth, you know). Winter happens just about every year. If you are over the age of reason, you know what you should have already done to prepare for this, even if it was simply a foggy dream of what you thought might happen. You knew to fill your car with gas, you knew to pack the truck with sand for weight on those iced roadways, to keep a shovel, extra boots and gloves, some blankets and maybe some strong tow rope or a tow chain in that trunk as well. You knew that you needed a new window scrapper last winter. You know that with snow comes shovelling outside, and added time to even consider going outside and leaving the driveway to get somewhere. You knew you should have gotten some kerosene heaters, and kerosene, just in case the power went out at some point during the season. You knew it would be prudent to have some bread, some milk, maybe even some eggs and such in the freezer, stocked and waiting. You knew that maybe a few jugs of water for when the pipes freeze would be nice. And if you were hit with an outage, all those nice food stocks would be helpful to those who took you in to keep you from freezing alone at home.

It's called winter. It's not something newly discovered. It happens year after year to most regions, albeit to varying degrees, but it still happens. Life is not screeching to a halt to wait for a thaw. It's rolling along much slower due to someone forgetting the cardinal rule of letting the engine run for at least 30 minutes...

4 comments:

LizBeth said...

Hey, this is news to me. I thought we were supposed to be all warmed up? Aren't you being flooded up there in northern Mississippi by the Gulf of Mexico sometime soon . . . . so soon that the U.N. thinks it's an emergency? Winter?? Help!!!!

~Liz, on dry ground and cold

Anonymous said...

That's telling em! (says the Australian as she laughs and reads your post out loud to her husband :)

Paula said...

People are like that around here the first few times it snows. I try to stay off the roads because people seem to forget how to drive! We've got a bit of snow and it's not too cold. Trees look beautiful too :)

I received my pay-it-forward gift yesterday. A very nice surprise in my mailbox -didn't even have to drive to the post office. Thanks!

Stephanie said...

I am sitting here with tears in my eyes, from laughing so hard! This has to be one of your best posts yet!!!

Bravo!!

Jer.6:16

Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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