There’s something about winter and snow

Sam Hartle

As I woke up last Wednesday with snow and frigid temperatures outside, I finally greeted winter for 2005. I think we all still have the kid part in us where we eagerly anticipate the first snowstorm of the winter. I even found myself constantly checking the school cancellations for the next day on the off-chance that Washburn would cancel classes.

?I think people are genetically predisposed to be intrigued by snow. Snow falling outside, with the accumulating snow acting as an insulator for sounds of the city and logs burning in the living room fireplace offers an idyllic setting for most people. The yellow glow of the clouds at night after a snowstorm take the edge off of the darkness. It’s just like the Hollywood movies of spending Christmas in Aspen, where no one has a care in the world.

?Growing up in Minnesota, the first snowfall was always a significant event – if for no other reason than to signal that the next six months would be spent largely inside. Sure, we would spend afternoons, which amounted to the 1 hour and 45 minutes from the time school got out until dark, outside building snow forts that were the envy of the neighborhood.

?Winter in Minnesota was always a time when the byproducts of hyperactive society finally slowed down. People didn’t drive as fast, they generally didn’t spend much time outside and about an hour and a half of each day was devoted to putting on and taking off coats, boots, gloves, etc.

?Most importantly, the first snow of the season was always a reminder to everyone that people have to work together in the winter, help each other out and have patience. I’m fairly confident that the term ‘Minnesota Nice’ came about and is on display during the winter months in the Gopher State.

?For most of last Wednesday, I saw in Topeka what I associated with winter in Minnesota. People started slowing down, while others didn’t even venture out. Everyone had a story about how adventurous their three mile drive into school had been. With people running a few minutes behind, those who told their stories of missing three spinning-out cars or sliding through an intersection actually had an audience.

?But it was all a fleeting experience. By Sunday, most of the snow was either gone or in giant piles of slush. The sides of the roads were covered in a dark black grime, which required you to clean your windshield every five minutes when driving down the highway.

People went back to their hyperactive pace of cramming 34 hours worth of activity into 21 hours. The stories of adventure go untold, as people no longer have any free time to listen. The tranquility of a snowstorm becomes a distant memory.

?The intrigue of winters in Minnesota is lost in Kansas, though to no fault of its own. The first snowfall in Kansas sets up the season where one week will have frigid temperatures, and then the next week, highs in the 50’s. We are at the mercy of weather forecasters, who tap into our fascination of snow, at the slightest hint of a winter storm, only to wake up the next morning with clear skies and no snow.

?For just one day last week, we all experienced the joy of winter. While it was only that one day, it was better than none at all.

?Have a happy holiday season. I’ll see you next January!