Thursday, December 10, 2009
The real deal
Nature dumped 15+ inches of snow on Des Moines this week. Fifteen inches of snow followed by winds gusting to 50 miles per hour. Snow swirled in whiteout waves. Drifts mounded up to window ledges. Temperatures dropped to bitter lows. A blizzard for the history books. And boy was it cool to watch!
So often we get hype. The forecast promises something big. Weathermen warn us off the roads. Reality is often so much less impressive. But this time, we got the real deal.
This blizzard brought to mind a blizzard that swept the Plains States on January 12, 1888, one that came to be called the Children's Blizzard. Unexpected, fast and furious, that blizzard caught people unaware and unprepared, particularly the children in one-room schoolhouses. Many set out to walk home, often without coats because the weather had been so warm up to that point. Stumbling through snow drifts, lost in whiteout conditions, unable to make it to shelter, hundreds died of hypothermia.
Our modern weather forecasting systems, our good roads and powerful vehicles, compounded by our NEED to go out, give us confidence. Surely we can make it.
Farmers used to run a rope between the house and barn so they didn't get lost in a snowstorm when they went out to take care of the livestock. My husband and I joked about tying a rope to the door and holding on while I walked to the mailbox. It's almost a quarter mile out and back. I didn't. Of course I could make it. I was shocked when I returned to the house exhausted from wading through the drifts.
Sitting in the warmth of our home, wrapped in a blanket in front of the fireplace, sipping a cup of tea, watching the blizzard rage and the snow pile up, brought back memories of the big storms or my childhood. And I love a good snowstorm. But I realize it's easy to enjoy a blizzard when you're safe in a warm home.
It's worth remembering: Sometimes you get the real deal.