This past weekend I got a snow day. Two of them, actually. And boy did I enjoy them.
Most people old enough to know better have a certain attitude about living in the midwest: “I like having seasons and all, but as far as I’m concerned we could skip winter entirely.” But you already knew it – I am not like most other people.
I like snow. There. I said it. I have liked it since I was a kid. Why? Because snow is an adventure. Our modern lives are so smoothed and homogenized and refined that everythinig is easy. There was a time when the desire for a pizza at ten o’clock on a Saturday night might have required at least an hour of food preparation. Not now – we pick up the phone and one will be at the door in thirty.
I don’t mean that every little niggling snowfall is an adventure. Those small ones are pretty when the begin and messy and ugly by the time they go away, and are more nuisance than anything else. I am talking about The Big One.
By The Big One I do not mean to say what most other people in the more southerly areas of the midwest consider as The Big One. These are the people who fly into a panic when the forecast calls for three to four inches, sending them out like locusts to the grocery stores to lay in all the bread and milk they can fit into their carts. No, that is not The Big One because after the forecast the actual snowfall comes in at about 2.5 inches. Which, where I grew up, was kind of an average winter day.
No, The Big One is that once-a-decade snowfall that shuts the world down, or at least your little part of it. The one that closes schools and day care centers and churches. The one that cancels social plans and results in announcements that if you are not on-the-clock emergency personnel you need to stay indoors. If you can shovel out and be at work the next day it isn’t The Big One.
I am not greedy, and do not expect The Really Big One. That one only comes once a generation. I experienced The Really Big One in 1978. The result has been that every big snowfall since has been kind of “meh”. Maybe I will get one more of these in my lifetime. The odds says that I will, so here’s hoping.
So for now I am good with something in the 8 inch range that will shut things down for just a couple of days.
It was fun when the kids were small. Pancakes, board games and movies on the VCR were the order of the day. And of course going out to play in it. Frankly, I have outgrown that part and had more fun standing inside watching them play in it than doing it myself.
But while the kids are grown and gone, I still look forward to getting snowed in at least once for the winter. I don’t think that this past weekend counted for that kind of snow, but when it was coupled with my getting over the flu it was a good weekend for staying inside. Actually, the second snow day was a bit of a stretch, but I was still recovering and didn’t have to be anywhere.
A hot meal from the slow-cooker and a steady supply of old movies on TV can make a snow day a great time. Of course for those of us on the more introverted end of the scale, any excuse to wall ourselves off from the world is a good one.
The weather forecasters are promising another similar storm this weekend. Frankly, I am betting against it. Most people will be happy if we dodge The Big One, but I will feel cheated. January is half over already and we will be running out of time for a major snowstorm before you know it. There is pancake mix in the cupboard and The Maltese Falcon saved on the DVR so come on winter – bring it!
Photo credit: January 2016 photo by Jarek Tuszynski of the aftermath of Winter Storm Jonas in Fairfax, VA, via Wikipedia. CC 4.0 license
Here in Mid-Michigan we got a decent snow the week after Thanksgiving and literally nothing but dustings since. I’m expecting a blizzard in May to make up for this.
While I don’t hate winter, I could go for a much shorter one. Nice pretty snow from Thanksgiving through New Years and then start spring in February maybe. 🙂
I should have added that by mid February I’m over snow and start grumbling about it like everyone else.
I may have jinxed myself, as I just now see that the weekend forecast is calling for 2-5 inches of snow.
Our predicted 8 inches is down to 4 or less now. My prediction: it will hit about 2 and stop. That 150-200 miles between us makes a huge difference.
After having multiple snows in November, then 14″ here with up to 20″ a half-hour north just this past weekend, stick a fork in me I am done with winter. The only upshot is doing doughnuts in my pickup in a snow covered parking lot at work. That was fun but it’s a nice realization to know we are closer to March 1 than December 1.
That said, your excitement for snow is quite obvious. Perhaps my excitement can one day return and match yours!
I figured that a man who has to deal with clearing roads on a professional level might not be able to match my level of enthusiasm. It is much nicer having nothing but my own driveway to clear. As long as the snowblower will start, getting to play with it adds to the adventure.
I’m kind of done with playing in the snow and getting wet & snow up my back etc. but I enjoy walking outside in the snow. We have a good trail system around here which is quite pleasing in the winter. I used to cross country ski with Dad in the 70’s and 80’s, but the area is more built up now and X country ski tracks get walked out by pedestrians.
Here’s another silly piece of Canadiana that you haven’t heard “and I know that by February my thoughts on snow will be contrary” 🙂
I am sure that you Canadians get a lot more snow a lot more regularly. Even moving the 100 miles south from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis makes a big difference, including an average temperature difference of maybe 5 degrees F. I guess down here I just savor it more.
These little bits of Canadian culture are always fun.
If I had any say at all in these things I would send you at least a foot so you could put the pancake mix and Maltese Falcon episodes to good use! I hope you’ll get at least one whopper before too long so you’ll feel like you’ve had a proper winter.
PS: For me, nothing has ever beat the 28.4 inches of snow we got in the Twin Cities on October 31, 1991 — and frankly, it’s one record I wouldn’t mind seeing unchallenged.
Wow! We only got 17 inches in 1978 in Fort Wayne. I could do that one again. Not wanting to repeat 28.4? I thought you Minnesotans were tougher than that? 😀. Maybe with some pie?
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HAHA! You are the king of the witty comebacks, J.P. — and you do have a point about Minnesotans being tougher than this whiny penpal of yours. In my defense, I was brought here from the tropics against my will so I’m not really representative of the stoic Nordic stock who populate this glorified ice field. Still … maybe some pie would help. 😉
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Good read. I would have considered the ~13″ and double digit negative degrees that we got in Indianapolis during the “Polar Vortex/Snowpocalypse” of January 2014 to have qualified as a Really Big One, although I guess even that one didn’t measure up to the Blizzard of 78, which has taken up a mythic quality for those of us who weren’t there to see it first hand, sort of like the proverbial Noah’s ark or something. My years in Lansing, Michigan while at MSU saw a few different instances where we got about a foot of snow at a time (though MSU never once canceled class). Still, I would consider those to be Really Big Ones too, mostly because they affected how I got into campus. I never drove into campus, even in the winter (MSU’s parking pass system was a scam), and I was often reduced to having to walk the two miles from my apartment into campus when the roads got too bad to ride my bike in. It was a tough couple of years but I learned a lot about layering clothing in order to stay warm, as well as learning to watch for ice while riding my bike.
I agree that big snows are an adventure in life, and I’ll never not like watching falling snow in the evening or the look of a freshly fallen blanket of snow in the morning. But in terms of having to actually deal with it in the aftermath and all that it entails, well, I’m little less enthusiastic about it, especially after my years in Michigan; and I admit, a part of me is a wee bit envious of folks who live in places where they can comfortably wear shorts in the winter.
Just think of all the “dad cred” you built up during your time in Michigan. When you have kids you can look over your glasses and say “hey, I had to walk two miles in worse weather than you think is possible.”
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The 1978 storm is the first time in 120 plus years that MSU actually closed. They have had a few snow days since, but not many. That is actually my most vivid recollection of that storm, I was confused because I was pretty sure it was a weekday, but nobody woke me up for school and my Dad was home.
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We used to have a home in California’s “snow country” at 6800’ elevation. I got tired of snow in the years when we had a 1’ snowfall over 24 hours … on Memorial Day. When there was already 8’ on the ground. And we already had multiple 3’ snowfall days in January, and February, and then a few inches the following Labor Day. Where I live now there is NO snow. Ever.
A foot on Memorial Day would be a little much. And wow, that’s some real snowfall.