Monday, December 17, 2007

Welcome, Old Man Winter

CNN Story: 'Nasty' winter storms cause traffic deaths, delays

Of course by now, everyone knows we in the northeast-midwest US had our first real winter storm over the weekend. And let me tell was wasn't a doozey. It wasn't extraordinary. It wasn't anything different than what I've been waiting for the past six weeks.

Deaths are terrible and delays are regrettable, and accidents, sometimes tragic ones, certainly do happen. But this is winter. Can everyone above the 40th parallel PLEASE stop complaining about:
(1) the inevitable winter weather,
(2) the first sign of the season that the Earth is tolerating the dramatic change we're inflicting,
(3) a wonderful gift of beauty and fun for kids of all ages, and
(4) a fantastic excuse not to have to pick up semi-frozen dog poop from the yard?

Is it just me, or have the last 10 years or so been rank with whining about summer heat, spring rains, and winter snow and ice? Disasters notwithstanding, it seems to me that natural seasonal changes do nothing but piss people off, causing them nothing but inconvenience because they might actually sweat while working in the garden, or have to shovel the walk in winter. What is wrong with these people? Californians put up with how many months of drought (and then wildfires), Katrina victims are still living in fermaldehyde-ridden FEMA trailers, and we're upset because we've forgotten how to drive on a slippery road, or our flight was (for safety reasons, remember) delayed? Puh-lease.

Driving past the near-million-dollar homes I see on my way to work today, I saw no less than three luxury vehicles stuck halfway out of their professionally plowed driveways, and yesterday during the end of the snowstorm, I watched numerous 4-wheel drive vehicles with high-end brand names (including a Hummer) spinning wheels in the snow because the well-manicured ladies or silk-shirt businessmen behind the wheels haven't a clue how to operate them. Am I missing something, or has expectation of nature to conform to human comfort zones become the norm?

There are lots of things to be upset about, and lots of legitimate problems we have as individuals, communities, and a species in general, but it strikes me as counterintuitive when part of everyone's solution is the exact opposite of trying to fit into a natural order with the world. It's nice to have air conditioning and a furnace to keep the house comfortable, but when the ambient air temp falls outside your ±5° tolerance, do us all a favor and complain elsewhere. Even the French are probably less whiny than you.

As for me, what I'll remember most about this weekend's storm will be my little kids all bundled up with their kid-sized snow shovels, helping me in the driveway (or shoveling the grass around the tree, depending on their mood), little bootprints inside my own because the depth of the snow was higher than my daughter's legs, snow angels and giggling, red chapped cheeks smiling at me through the window because my son, cold as he was, was having too much fun to care about hot chocolate, and the slightly-achy feeling in my shoulders and back, and very satisfied feeling in my heart, after hanging my snow shovel on the garage hook and coming in myself. These memories will remain and feed my soul long, long after whatever might come of the activities I would have otherwise engaged in without the gift of snow we received.

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