Growing up in small-town Indiana in the 1950s and '60s, I remember marking time in the winter by the number of snowfalls we had for the season.
There were winters when snow fell 15 to 20 separate times and the ground was covered from December to March. As kids, we watched those first snowflakes descend in awe, as if we had never seen them before. If it happened during school hours, students would rush to windows and marvel at a sight that, despite its arrival every winter, still created an excitement like no other weather event.
'Now, as we move into the third decade of the new millennium, things have really changed. First, we don't get as much snow as we used to. Blame it on El Nino, active Pacific jet stream, lack of Arctic blasts or global warming, we are in the middle of another mild winter.
However, the change I notice even more is how people today feel about snow and cold weather. Local weather forecasters don't even like to say the word “snow.” Any possibility is whispered or called the “s” word. The prospect of snowfall is tempered with statements such as, “Let's hope it falls as rain” or “Maybe we will get lucky and not get any accumulation.”
I realize that winter and snow will never be as popular as summer and lake weather. However, in years past, there wasn't as much complaining about the cold months. It was part of the climate; part of the cycle of nature.
It was expected and snow was brushed off, figuratively and literally. There was no editorializing about it on television and radio.
Andrew Wyeth said, “I prefer winter and fall when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it – the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath and the whole story doesn't show.” I feel the same way. At 75, I still thrill at the first significant snowfall. I still get the urge to throw a snowball.
Weather has a tremendous impact on how we feel, physically and emotionally. Plenty of us remember huge snowfalls that disrupted the boys sectional basketball tournament sometime in the 1960s. That event is so ingrained in the lore of high school basketball that fans believe it happened every year since and will happen every year in the future. Throw in the Blizzard of 1978 and the floods of the '80s and we all have minds full of weather nostalgia.
What I am saying to the media, print or broadcast, is to emulate the perspective of John Ruskin when he said, “Sunshine is delicious; rain is refreshing; wind braces us up and snow is exhilarating. There is really no such thing as bad weather, just different kinds of good weather.”
Well, still no real cold weather in sight. A warmer-than-normal December is leading us into a mild January. A little more than 3 inches of snow has fallen officially for the entire season
I have always felt that if it is going to rain in the winter, it really needs to be snow. The rain lovers have nine months. Give me three.
And just remember, if it does snow and later melts, that dirty puddle used to be pure white snow. Walk by with respect.
Mike McMillen, a Fort Wayne resident, is a retired educator.