Welcome to the winter of our discontent

Welcome to the winter of our discontent

We here in mid-Illinois consider ourselves to be made of good, tough, midwestern stock. We boast about how the weather here in the mid-Mississippi valley can change in a moment’s notice, and the ability to adapt quickly to those changes is simply part of our native legacy. Whether it be flood, drought, tornado or blizzard, we can take it.

This is how I was raised, and I believed it until 1997, when I moved to Des Moines, Iowa.

During my first winter in Iowa, there was a snow and ice storm on Halloween, and no grass — dead, living or otherwise — was seen again until April. It wasn’t until then I questioned my midwestern toughness. In America’s northern tier, school days aren’t issued until there’s about a foot and a half of snow or significant ice accumulated.

Sure, they are more used to it than we are, but their methods of snow removal aren’t significantly different from ours. That winter, I saw first-hand that even really busy city streets aren’t necessarily completely cleared. People simply get used to driving around on about six inches of snowpack, a fact I always remember when I hear someone in these parts complaining when their streets haven’t been completely cleared.

We simply don’t have the winters down here that they do up north. That I-80 corridor seems to be a fairly accurate boundary when determining which parts of the country get heavy snowfall and which do not.

While I don’t necessarily consider myself a wide-eyed optimist, I’ve learned to appreciate a few things. There was a time when 20 degrees seemed frigid, but after a run of days with sub-zero temperatures, 20 degrees feels pretty darn good.

Also, my toilet paper holder is hung above my bathroom’s heating vent. At no other point in my life had I even noticed that, let alone thought it handy; now, I believe it to be a bit of design genius.

This winter, I’ve learned not to complain that my dogs leave me little room in my own bed, as I’ve learned to rely on that extra heat. There has been more than one three-dog night this season.

Although I believe it’s entirely possible we will all survive this winter pasty white and Vitamin D deficient, I hope we learn to appreciate the mild winters we typically have (knock on wood), and, perhaps, understand that coping with a hard winter works more to one’s advantage than complaining about it.