Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ready for the Groundhog

We have had some fantastic weather this week. It is the middle of November and it has been in the mid-70’s all week. I have enjoyed walking across town to escort my daughter home from school. The windows have been open in the apartment and a nice breeze has been flowing through. I could hear the sound of children playing outside. This morning, however, I woke up to an overcast sky and a temperature of 38 degrees. I checked the Weather Channel website and it forecasts the high for today at only 52 degrees. The 10-day forecast predicts 62 degrees for one day next week, but 40’s and 50’s the rest of the time. This can only mean one thing, but I really don’t want to admit it. I think winter is coming.

I hate winter. Actually, the word 'hate' may not capture what I want to say; I loathe winter. Despise. Abhor. Deprecate. Detest. You can pick your favorite verb here, I really do not care for winter. I don’t like the icy roads, the constant and very real danger of slipping and breaking a bone, the extra preparation and supplies to keep in the car, the increased utility bills, the snow shoveling, the snow getting tracked into the house, the salt build-up on my vehicle, the need for extra clothing, the increased commute time, and the COLD.

Fresh Snowfall in So. IL (2001)
Many people claim that winter is pretty; that the snow covering everything is beautiful.  I will argue that it is not.  When I lived in Puerto Rico, my brother sent me a picture of his backyard so I could see what I was missing. I don't know what feeling this was supposed to give me, but I don't think it worked.  I really didn't miss it at all.  It didn't bother me in the least that I wasn't there to see it.  While he was having to dig his car out of his driveway and spend money on tire chains, I was less than a mile from the beach and eating mangoes on my front porch.  Can you see the difference?  Do you really think I was upset that I had missed the scenery of the backyard?

Laiya Beach in San Juan (2001)


DO NOT ENTER - TOO PRETTY
Let's make a snowman!
While I can give some (although limited) appreciation for the beauty of fresh, fallen snow; it has some serious limitations.  The beautiful places are generally uninterrupted by people (i.e. open fields, mountains, Antarctica, Zac Efron movies).  However, those are also not places in which people have to function.  When the snow falls where we have to live and work it is not nearly as breath-taking.  It is much more than just not pretty, it is a real hassle to have to contend with.  How many times in the winter have you gone out to your car to leave for work or school just to discover it will take an extra 20 minutes to get out of the driveway because of the previous night's weather?  Or maybe you planned ahead and dug a path in the driveway the night before, but woke up the next morning to find that snowplows clearing the roads had buried the last six feet of your driveway under two feet of snow and rock that is now frozen. Or maybe you are running late for work because your car door was frozen shut.  After fighting Jack Frost for half an hour (or longer) you now have to brave the condition of the roads caused by this beautiful landscape.

NO THANK YOU!!

As if walking in this treacherous, slippery landscape wasn't enough, you must do it with limited mobility due to the extra weight and restrictive clothing required to survive.  To get through the winter we have to wear coats, thermal underwear, nonskid (and waterproof) boots, scarves, stocking caps, earmuffs, gloves and other various miscellaneous items.  A family of four has to get up an extra 90 minutes early in the morning just to get everyone dressed.  

Winter clothing choices cannot be taken lightly.  For example, when choosing gloves you have 2 choices: you can either (a) keep you hands warm, or (b) move your fingers.  It is up to you to decide which is more important.

There is still the worst part of winter to contend with: the COLD.  Some days it is so bad it takes your breath away as soon as you step out the door.  You must dress appropriately if you want to survive your excursion out of the house.  If you go overboard and dress too warmly you will start to sweat.  The perspiration could then freeze and crack your face exposing your brain to the elements.  If you do not wear enough clothing (or choose something that doesn't break the wind, isn't waterproof, or gives easy access for bathroom breaks) then you run the risk of various winter ailments.  You could get hypothermia, pneumonia, frostbite, or Mad Cow Disease.  Midwestern Mothers are always warning their children to wear a hat over their ears because if the ears get too cold they could freeze solid causing them to break off if the child turns his head too quickly.  Every winter numerous fingers and toes are lost to frostbite, not to be found again until the early spring thaw.  Unfortunately, by then they are too soggy to do anything with.

As much as I hate this season, I think I am ready.  I have stocked up on soup and coffee and have signed up for all online courses for my college classes.  I am not leaving this apartment until March.  And that will only be to get umbrellas, raincoats, and a canoe, because it will then be time for the torrential spring rains.  I hate spring.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Big Changes

WOW!!!  I haven't blogged in 15 days.  I really enjoy writing my blog, but I have been really busy the last two weeks.  I will get into more detail in future blogs, but I will tell briefly what I have been doing.  My daughter and I have moved to a new town 100 miles from our last one, I am starting a new job in a few weeks, and I have registered for school so I will be a 39 year old full-time college student starting Monday.   So, I legitimately have been really busy.  Plus, I just got Internet in my new apartment yesterday.

There has been plenty to take up our time, besides the usual moving nuisances.  We got most of our stuff unpacked the first night we were here, but still have some things in boxes since we haven't set up the apartment yet (i.e. put together the bookcase, don't own a dining room table, haven't located the coffee pot, etc.).  Kirsten enjoys her new school and has made several friends already.  We really like our new church and have met dozens of families around the community there.

So now we are learning all the new things we need to know here.  Since Moweaqua is a small town of 2,000, many of the things we need are outside of town.  Decatur is 30 miles north, Springfield is 40 miles west, Shelbyville (much smaller, but has a Wal-Mart) is 25 miles southeast.  These are not vast distances, but they are far enough away I need to plan ahead.  When I lived in Dix if I didn’t have something I needed it was no big deal.  I would be in Mt. Vernon the next day and could grab it.  Mt. Vernon was 8 miles away and I went there every day anyway.  That is not the case here.  I now have a minimum of 50 mile round trip.  Once again, the distance is not a bad thing.  I just need to plan ahead since we will no longer be making those impromptu trips to the store.

Unlike most people, I love moving into a new town and making new friends at my new church and working at my new job.  Yes, I left some old friends behind, but they are still my friends and now I will have some more.  There is one couple that lives here that I was friends with in college and I am excited to get to spend time with them again, but also look forward to the new relationships that will be formed.