Finally, some real weather to talk about. And the weatherman had it right, this time.
One thing I’ve learned is that weather is relative.
People in Florida think 50 is cold; we in mid-Missouri shiver when it’s 20. My kids in Des Moines scoff at my complaining. For them, a 20-degree day and six inches of snow means spring isn’t too far away.
But what we had last Thursday, and then again Tuesday, well, that was a serious slice of winter. Even as a jaded as I am from 50 years of North Country winters, the winter blast was a challenge.
The good news is that it brought some more badly needed moisture. From that perspective, the couple inches of rain/snow/sleet/ice brought us more moisture than six inches of powdery snow. We’ll take it in whatever form.
I live in a condo complex in Osage Beach. It’s a pristine setup; very “green” with lots of smart landscaping. The 10 four-unit buildings are surrounded only by trees and water. But, like many others at the lake, the road into the parking lot is about 30 degrees downhill, or uphill depending on your perspective.
Our complex isn’t high on the priority list for the contracted snow removal company because there are only a few of us who are full-timers. I learned quickly a few years ago after a one-inch snowfall that I either park a quarter mile away up the hill to the nearest level street and walk when it snows, or I stay home.
But now, for the first time in more than five years I own a four-wheel drive vehicle. It’s partly out of necessity if I expect to function during serious winter months. I’m sacrificing fuel mileage for functionality.
To some degree, the nature of being in the media necessitates a vehicle that can go through nearly every type of weather and terrain. At least that’s the rationale when I make my payment every month.
The truck was handy this week and last week getting to and from work and plowing through the snow and ice looking for any signs of storm-related mayhem.
Again, weather is relative.
Countless times during my 19 years as owner of the Iowa newspaper did I first dig myself out of our home before hauling the snow blower downtown to clear the sidewalks for the handful of customers who came in.
We lived at the top of a small hill on the edge of Corning. To our northwest at the bottom of the hill was a pond, and beyond that was the town’s cemetery. Unrelenting northwest winds battered the cold, granite tombstones in the cemetery before sweeping across the frozen pond and into our yard. Even a couple inches of snow transformed into small snowdrifts between our driveway and the city street about 50 yards away.
Page 2 of 2 - In a nasty storm, I would climb into thermal underwear and blue jeans, three layers of undergarments and then a down-filled winter coat, a pair of thermal gloves and a stocking hat that covered my entire head except for the eyes and mouth.
The wind still stung my face, and often ice would form on the stocking hat around my mouth and nose. I was usually good for 20 minutes behind the snow blower in wind chills sometimes 20 and 30 degrees below zero. After a brief warm-up in the mudroom, it was outside again to finish the job.
We learned to back our cars into the garage to get a running start into the snowdrifts that I couldn’t defeat with the snow blower and/or shovel. There were times I was forced to pick my way around snowdrifts through the neighbor’s yard just to reach the city street.
Five minutes away was our newspaper office. Main street, about four locks long, ran due north and south, so the northwest wind literally howled through the overhead power lines during a blizzard. Bundled up again, I would unload the snow blower and tackle the two sidewalks that bordered our corner-lot building. The sidewalk that faced main street was 30 feet long and about 12 feet deep, while the side-street walk was 120 feet long and 12 feet wide.
I always took along an extra pair of socks and warm shoes for the duration of the day. The rest of my clothes eventually dried out.
Two of my employees were in their Golden Years at the time.. Each time we had a blizzard, I insisted they stay home, that I could man the shop in their absence, and that I’d even pay them to stay home where it was safe. But their work ethic prevailed. They were afraid to drive during a heavy snowstorm, so as their employer and friend I was their friendly cab driver.
My, my. How times have changed.