Snow: A Mini Natural Disaster
“We have a mini-natural disaster on our hands, and everyone thinks it’s wonderful!”It was when we were surviving our first winter in Nebraska that I made this observation. (Mind you, I couldn’t have fathomed South Dakota then). I have made many observations to my husband throughout our marriage, yet this one stands out in his mind.
He brings it up again every winter when the snow comes. It entertains him for some reason, maybe because I am a South American who did not grow up with winters. I like to believe it is because he sees it as an intelligent and perspicacious observation.
We finally got a bit more settled into winter weather in Brookings. Beautiful snowfalls, gorgeous snowflakes falling and transforming our otherwise commonplace town into a winter wonderland postcard.
The snow comes, and everyone is happy. “Snow! So pretty and exciting”, is the general air all over town. Kids enjoying the extra sleep—or the extended time they suddenly have for that overdue project—and steaming hot chocolate beckons from the kitchen.
Nice snowfall? Bringing smiles and hurrahs? Really? Try, “are you all just crazy?” I am not referring to the headaches of canceled meetings, the dangerous driving, the mess on the streets. Never mind the craziness at Hy-Vee for hours on end before the snow even starts. The whiteout conditions. The worrying about family members who are about to fly out somewhere when the temperature is below what it ever should be.
I mean, look outside! I call it a mini-natural-disaster!
Okay, let’s backtrack a bit.
To escape the heat and the tourists, my parents took us every summer to the rural mountainous region two hours away, where my grandmother had a beautiful property. Mudslides were a common occurrence because that is what happens when geology and rural, semi-primitive roads meet.
Think of when you see images of tropical countries enduring mudslides. Here we only see on TV when the mudslides turn gigantic and deadly—and yet they are common occurrences in many parts of the world.
Paths are blocked. Limbs and branches all over. Vehicles stuck in the slippery clayish mud. Larger vehicles attempting to clear the streets. Messy sidewalks and dirty shoes!Is it all becoming more familiar? We South Dakotans endure all that every time it snows! How could my dear husband (who grew up the Northeast) never notice that? But there are differences. And they are not only in the color!
Here our mudslide-like mini-natural-disaster may be a prettier-white, but folks, we have the gigantic disadvantage of it being FROZEN! Not only are things inconvenient and messy, we are freezing cold to boot!
I experienced snow for the first time when I was starting graduate school in Texas. I was 22 years old, but during that snowfall, I felt…7 years old? I was experiencing firsthand something I had only seen in photos and the Christmas cards my parents received from Europe and the USA. (I actually had once stuck my hands and head in the freezer at home in Rio to try to get a feel for it!) I touched the snow, I felt it, played with it, walked on it, made snow angels, and took photos. In some ways, it was as I imagined it would be. Except for one aspect: It was horribly, uncomfortably, freezing cold!
It may feel like a mini-natural-disaster, but I admit it is magical. Gorgeous. Exhilarating. I like to think that snow is a God-given gift of light and joy, a tool empowering us to survive winter every year.
Ana has a Master’s Degree in Humanities and blogs at Ana Braga Henebry’s Journal