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Editorial: Relearning snow skills

This editorial is to appear in Thursday's print edition of The Journal Gazette:

For many Hoosiers, one of Indiana’s attractions is that in any given year, the state often sees the full majesty of each of the four seasons.But Indiana largely escaped a bone-chilling, snow-covered winter last year; so Wednesday’s storm came not as a surprise – after all, it was well forecast – but a jolt back to reality.

No matter how many times local residents have driven in snow, it seems we all have to relearn the skills in each year’s first snow.

And face it, after last winter’s relatively balmy weather, most of us are out of practice. So we drive too fast or too slow, we hit the brakes hoping the vehicle will stop, we have internal feelings about the driver behind us following way too close for this kind of weather.

We get stuck and frequently depend on the good nature of fellow motorists or even pedestrians to help us get going again. We curse the snowplow driver who, like the road runner, zips by and leaves mountains of snow at the driveway entrance or space just outside the car door we just finished shoveling.

Beep beep.

The first snowstorm of the year is also known for its unforgiving treatment of neglecting maintenance. The bald tire that got you through autumn just doesn’t cut it now. Those wiper blades you’ve been meaning to replace do a better job of spreading the snow and ice across your window than removing it. The thermostat that didn’t matter all that much through a mild fall really matters when a strong wind blasts icy air into your cold car.

You promise that your next car is definitely going to have remote start and heated seats.

For those who work inside but can’t get there without going outside, there are the difficult wardrobe choices, especially regarding footwear.

Some of us enjoy seeing the snow again, others dread it, but operators of hardware, outdoor and big box stores are nearly unanimous in welcoming a decent snowfall. Snow blowers and shovels and hats and gloves and heavy coats and thick socks and boots and cross-country skis and sleds for the kids and even snowmobiles – stuff we forgot we wanted or needed to repair or replace sends us through the doors of local merchants, who, let’s face it, can use the business.

Though adults may be torn between dreading and welcoming the snow, a white day-after Christmas brings endless opportunities for kids. From snowmen to snowballs to snow forts to sledding, kids will get to have some fun in the snow for the first time in a long time.

Adults who have been winter-free for nearly two years re-familiarize themselves with winter preparedness. We prepare emergency kits for our vehicles, keep a closer watch on kids and pets, make sure our pantries are full and dress in layers. Those of us age 40 or older may well find themselves assuming old fogey status and start telling tales of what happened 25 years ago next month.

“I remember the blizzard of ’78 …..”

Which, of course, makes this snowstorm seem like a mere dusting.

In any event, be careful – and have fun.

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