When I first moved here from the land of “Tornado Warning” and “Flash Flood Watch,” I had a strong respect for the weather. In fact, I usually refer to it as The Weather. In Texas I learned to take the advisories seriously. Laugh at the ever-present little funnel cloud icon in the corner of your tv screen and an hour later God is likely to pick your cow up and move him a county over simply by blowing His Breath.
I moved to Grand Rapids in September of 2002 and was quickly introduced to Winter. Downtown…the plows run swiftly, kids play ice hockey in the street, and there is no shame in tucking your pants into your boots. I love Winter. I became familiar with the new Weather icons…”snow advisory,” “snow warning,” “lake-effect advisory,” “high wind advisory”…simple enough. I remember, though, seeing “BLOWING SNOW ADVISORY” for the first time. I climbed up on my huge white horse and scoffed. Truly, I did. Please. Blowing Snow? Oooooooh, scary. Watch out for the Blowing Snow.
Yeah. You can see where this is going.
You step outside and everything appears normal…stinkin’ cold, but otherwise normal. You step off your front porch with your vehicle clearly in view ahead of you. You take 3 steps. Enter the “blowing snow.” Suddenly, you are in a storm of white. You think it’s beautiful and movie-like, but you are wrong. This is blowing snow. Your eyes freeze while simultaneously your nose runs down your face. You instinctively raise your mitten-clad hand to your nose to stop the flow, but you find that your (once soften and hand k-nitted) mitten is now the consistency of a brillo pad. The chunks of blowing snow in your mitten have frozen and adhered to the gushing snot on your face.
The wind has pushed an acre of snow over your path in mere seconds and you now have lost sight of your vehicle. With snow swirling around your body, your brain struggles to function. What do I do? Push ahead? Retreat? Rip the mitten from my face? Scream for help? No one will hear you. You are alone. Alone alone ALONE.
Since the car has disappeared, you wisely choose to retreat and give the storm a chance to settle. You make what you think is a 180˚ turn, but how can you be sure? You can’t. You’re in blowing snow. You can’t even tell which end is UP, much less find a building in this mess.
You take 3 more steps toward what you think is the front door, but instead you fall off the porch and into the sad little winter flower bed. Not only are you surprised at your apparent lack of direction, but you are now lying down in the blowing snow. You realize your situation is very bad. You begin to sob…joining a chorus of tens of
idiots others on your street, also on their front porches, also hopelessly lost.
Prepared to die and be found with your mitten plastered to your face and your skirt filled with snow, you begin to pray…and you start by apologizing for underestimating the blowing snow. Clearly, you were wrong. Obviously, you know nothing of the power of wind and water mixed together. You are a simple simple person and you are so sorry.
And then suddenly, the blowing snow stops. It settles. The air is still. The street is beautiful and just barely dusted with untouched snow. You humbly pick yourself up from the depths of despair, step out of the flower bed, brush yourself off, admire the beauty of Winter, and steer towards your car again.
You make it to the sidewalk when you hear a familiar hum…and the wind comes down the alley again and begins to swirl.
It will take you 25 minutes and 14 bouts with the Blowing Snow to actually reach your vehicle. By this time, you are wet from sweat, frozen from cold, and you have to go to the bathroom. You decide to just spend the day in your car rather than drive or (worse yet) try to make it make into your house. You will tell no one of your troubles. You will suffer silently…but you will remember.
Grand Rapids is not for sissies.
Lace up yer moonboots and go out and grab the mail.
If you’re not back in half an hour, I’ll send Abe out after you.