Tuesday, January 7, 2014

To Weather

The weather here in Michigan has gotten severe, and I feel a sense of urgency as I scroll through social media and read news websites. It got me thinking, which got me writing.

I sit here, perched on the back of couch, peering out the window at the snow that has bombarded the Midwest in an unprecedented cold snap. Sipping coffee as I lean against a window that has iced over on both sides, I can't help but wonder how cold it feels outside It's the kind of cold that makes your hands ache and your lungs burn. I'm reminded of the coldest I've ever been, huddling in the dark under a snowmobile in the middle of Michigan's upper peninsula as I waited for help to bring gasoline for my empty tank. I'm finally starting to grow hair on a patch of skin near my chin after frostbite.

At this risk of not sounding dedicated(read: insane), I don't really want to run in this weather that much. I like to observe it, bundle up, and feel connected to it on a walk. Running in this weather just feels like streaking through snow naked. It's sort of fun to say I've done it, but kind of pointless in the end.(Not to discriminate against my friends who post selfies of frozen beards/eyelashes in this shit. Do what you feel, my crazy ass friends)

Whether it's because of a media hype or our tendency to forget every single year that winter is cold(granted, this is exceptionally cold), we Midwesterners are battening down the hatches and settling in for a real storm. Stores experienced a large influx of shoppers buying food and supplies, and schools and businesses preemptively closed, even the area colleges.

My first thoughts when we actually get severe weather are those of concern for those who actually have their survival threatened. I'm in an apartment with heat or an all-wheel drive car. I know I can go a couple days without food if need be. I don't particularly worry about myself. I've missed one class and have been put into a time crunch for an impending grad school deadline, but have been otherwise unaffected.

People who haven't been in grade school for years are getting "snow days." Any of us in a service industry are lucky if we get to choose which holidays we work. Any businesses that aren't part of national or regional chains could decide to close their doors for the day. In a society where working on holidays is expected of nearly everyone, many of us just see these once-cherished times as another thing to "get through." Obligatory gifts, meals, cards, and formalities make us lose track of the real meaning of fellowship and enjoying each other's company. On days like today, where many of us were explicitly told to do nothing, we may actually be able to relax. No academic work looming over our heads. Work is closed. Nowhere to really go and distract ourselves from each other. In a rare series of events, we were granted temporary freedom to appreciate what we have and not look for more. As I sit in a quiet apartment with ice creeping in and snow drifts holding the door shut, I'm thankful to be sitting here with two beings that quickly changed my life. I've realized how wonderful it is to decide what I want for dinner and have those items from a store within an hour with no real inconvenience. The "quick" 100mile drive between my current home and my childhood home seems substantially longer. I'm grateful for every moment.

Though a streak of harsh weather can have terrible consequences, I'd like to think that it can remind us of indomitable spirit and appreciation for what we have. Check on old neighbors and don't lick flagpoles.


  1. We used to regularly hit -40 (real temperature, not windchill adjusted) in northern BC where I spent my childhood. On one such winter Sunday, my brother decided to lick the handrail along the front steps of our church. Sure enough, his tongue immediately froze to the railing, and he was stuck there as the entire congregation filed by at the end of the service. I'm not sure who was most embarrassed by the incident - my brother, or my dad, the pastor of said church. Being the good big brother that I am, I thought it was hilarious.

    Boulder has avoided most of the cold snap, save for a single day hovering around 0. We did get a foot of nice dry snow though, making for glorious running conditions on the trails.

    1. Aaaaaand I miss Colorado again(to the point of probably moving there in the spring if grad school in Flagstaff doesn't work/sound fun).

      It's just too tempting not to lick a metal object when it's frozen, especially when told not to, as a kid.