Snow Morality

[This groundhog does not care about the weather.]

My latest pet peeve has to do with the weather. I've become terribly annoyed by the way that meteorologists and reporters describe weather as either “good” or “bad.”



After enough repetition, you start to think that snow is the end of the world. Well isn't that a little presumptuous?

Maybe its my childhood memories of the great Halloween blizzard that left me “trapped” inside my house, not having to go to school, forced to play in my snowsuit, and clutching a pillowcase absolutely filled with candy, but I kind of like it when it snows.

News broadcasters take great liberties by assuming that certain kinds of weather are better than others. I distinctly remember getting annoyed at MPR describing an unseasonal November thaw (60 degrees) with something akin to Schadenfreude. It was as if Gary Eichten had personally warmed the Earth with his “folksy” Minnesotan accent.

The thing that got me stewing, though, was that the news broadcasters assumed that warm summer weather was a good thing in the middle of November. The assumed that warmth was good, cool temperatures were bad, and that all Minnesotans want to live in a mid-continental Los Angeles.

Au contraire!

Barring natural disasters, there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” weather. There is only weather that is “good for” certain things, and “bad for” other things.

There is weather that is good for jogging, and weather that is good for snowballs. There is weather that is good for skiing, and weather that is good for staying inside with a warm cup of tea and a book. There is weather that is good for growing corn, and weather that is good for long walks on the beach.

Instead of appreciating what different kinds of weather can be “good for”... Instead of liking snow for what it is (white, powdery, tree-accenting, slow-falling, gravity revealing, friction-undoing, unique, stratified, semi-solid water precipitation)... we focus on how it changes our commute on the Interstate. It's as if journalists have been replaced by a gaggle of transportation engineers describing the world through standard-issue petroleum-colored glasses. Every time a Minnesotan looks at the falling snow and thinks only of her commute to work, somewhere a small and beautiful bird is crushed to death.

Here in the upper Midwest, we have a rather unique climate that is marked by extremes. Far from the mollifying effect of warm, current-filled oceans, we have stark opposites. This time of year, after months of snow, its hard to remember what grass looks like, or whether or not trees ever were covered by leaves. But that doesn’t mean that summer is better than winter.

A few years ago I picked up a rather ravenous cross country ski habit, and ever since then I’ve been loving winter weather. I’m particularly fond of late February, with its powdery snow, warm days, and late afternoon sunshine.

[Snow is beautiful, and fun to play in. This is true even if you are an adult.]


Andrew said...

Sure am liking the sunshine this week when it comes out behind the clouds, from the quotes above sounds like you've been watching the Daily Show :-D
Snow is Dangerous when it results in people getting killed on the freeways for driving way too fast under the conditions or minor annoyances of sliding into ditches, rear ended, etc. Otherwise there is pleasant solitude and enjoyment to be found in winter: for example sitting in a line of hundreds down in New Ulm MN for Bach fest this last weekend.
Where do you usually Cross Country Ski in the cities or in the hinterland?

Bill Lindeke said...

I kind of hang out in Saint Paul and go to Como Park or Battle Creek whenever I can. If I can get outa town, though, I will! (Hard w/out a car.)

I've yet to take my skis on the bus, but a friend of mine does that...

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