Be Delightful, by Rich Paschall
If you live anywhere in the United States, except the extreme southern portions, you will eventually get your share of winter weather. The further north you live, the worse it is likely to be. Here in the upper Midwest, we are likely to get a lot of snow and much sub-freezing weather. Some years we get a lot of subzero weather when I can look forward to the possibility of the pipes to the kitchen sink freezing. It is somewhat less than joyful to discover the water does not run in the kitchen.
During my many years in Chicagoland, we have enjoyed some of the biggest snowfalls ever. By enjoy, I mean we were all stranded somewhere. When that happens you hope to make it home before the snow gets too deep. In 1967 as a youngster, I thought it was fun to have over two feet of snow. The school was canceled and we got to dig out cars and play in the street. We could walk right down the center of usually busy Irving Park Road (Illinois 19) and not worry about traffic. Buses were stranded everywhere as they were connected to overhead electric wires and could not get around stalled cars and snowdrifts.
By the Blizzard of 1979, we were not as amused with the snow as we were at a younger age. In fact, it was the storm that pushed Mayor Bilandic out of office. We can forgive almost any sin in this town except not moving the snow. If he had not insisted the city was on top of the situation as the blizzard was raging on, he might have survived the poor effort. Like the soft snow in a storm, Bilandic was pushed to the curb in the following election.
We did not have another great blizzard until 2011, but we have had plenty of large snowfalls before and since. I have done enough snow shoveling for a lifetime. If you are lucky enough to have a snowblower, you learn they are not much good when you start measuring the snow in feet instead of inches.
Once when we were actually at work, we heard that there was a state of emergency in the Atlanta area as they expected 1 to 4 inches of snow. One to Four! Of course, we were all amused that they had to shut everything down over an amount of snow we would consider practically nothing. On the other hand, they do not have mountains of road salt, a fleet of snowplows, and an army of city workers prepared for even the smallest of snowfalls. If the Department of Streets and Sanitation does not move our snow in a timely manner, the mayor will be the ex-mayor after the next election.
One year we decided to escape the winter with a week in Florida. That was also the year that Florida did not escape the winter. Everywhere we went from Orlando to the southernmost reaches of the state, we heard the locals swear to us that they NEVER have an entire week of weather like that. Even Mickey Mouse must have gotten giant ear muffs for his mouse ears.
At least we had the beaches to ourselves. From Clearwater to Sarasota and Miami to Key West, we did not have to fight crowds of locals and tourists for a spot in the sand. Only the seagulls were walking around. Perhaps it was too cold for flight.
There just is no escaping Mother Nature. If she so desires, she can stalk you around the continental USA like the merchant of evil she can sometimes be. Winter vacation in Florida is no guarantee of warmth. When it is barely warmer than 1300 miles to the north, you are being advised that you should have stayed home. This particular year, I would stay home anyway. We can stay in all winter, but I guess we will still have to get out and shovel the snow.
So if the cold and the snow has overtaken your area, what should you do besides fret about the accumulations outside? Aside from clearing a path in the snow, it may be time for a snowman, snow fort, and snowball fight. It could be time to get out the sled or toboggan. You may wish to lace up the ice skates if you can actually get to the ice rink. There will only be outdoor skating here.
At this point in life, I can recall all those things fondly, but would rather delight in the inside of the house. After all, there are so many things I consistently delay, and a snowstorm might be my excuse to start a good book. I have accumulated many books over the years that I have intended to read. It would seem that not being able to go to the Wild West Sports Bar and Grill should not be so troubling. I can always start one of the mysteries on hand or dive into the John Adams biography.
This January, I think I should see Casablanca again. I have never watched the version with the commentary all the way through. There are other DVDs I have had for a long while that I would like to watch or watch again. So, when the thermometer shows Zero degrees or the snow is piling up, the fire can be so delightful. If you have a fireplace, that is. Otherwise, just get a warm blanket and enjoy the weather…from inside.