Posts Tagged With: blizzard

Cleaning Up the Mess

A week ago, when the big blizzard was just getting started, it was easy to write about it with humor. This week, not so much.

Oh, there’s no problem finding the lighter side based on just our own experience. We were incredibly fortunate. Our power was only out for one morning, plus two other short intervals. We didn’t have any trees fall on our house, damage our cars, or block our driveway. We didn’t have any medical emergencies or food shortages. We didn’t even run out of library books.

Basically, for us the storm was like a weekend retreat at an isolated discount spa. It featured nice towels, reasonably hot water, remarkably average food, and clean sheets if you wanted to change them yourself. Its most noteworthy offering was its unique exercise program. Snow shovels were provided by the management; guest were required to furnish their own snowpants and boots.

For a great many people, though, this storm was nothing to laugh about. There’s been enough said and written about its impact that I don’t need to add any more. The power outages, the broken trees, the damaged buildings, and especially the heartbreaking loss that puts everything else into perspective—the financial and emotional disaster of the thousands of dead cattle and sheep.

Of course, there are always a few people looking for someone to blame, like the complainers who seem to think the snowplows should hit their streets as soon as the first snowflakes do. Or the ones who don’t seem to grasp that rebuilding power lines takes time, especially when the work is complicated by deep snowdrifts, mud, and downed trees.

Many, many more, however, cope without drama. They dig themselves out and put themselves out to help their neighbors,. Like the volunteers with snowmobiles taking oxygen and other supplies to stranded people with medical needs. The unsung heroes with tractors plowing out their neighborhoods. Or the crews out working long, long hours and days to clear roads and restore power.

A columnist for the Rapid City Journal, Michael Sanborn, wrote a piece after the blizzard praising the way people came together to help each other. I agreed with most of what he said. Except this: “The western South Dakota community has shown our resilience. Had this happened in New York or Washington, it would still be the nation’s top story, because they aren’t as tough as we are.”

What nonsense. I somehow doubt he would say that in person to those who lost homes, businesses—and loved ones—in superstorm Sandy. When it comes to coping with disasters, there’s no difference between South Dakota, Haiti, Oklahoma, New York City, or anywhere else. Ultimately, we’re all part of the same community. The support and help we give each other is what helps make us so tough and resilient.

That’s why we keep shaking our heads and getting back up when Mother Nature—who can be a harsh and unforgiving old crone—has whacked us again. That’s why, when the storm is over, so many people matter-of-factly set about cleaning up the mess.  And why so many of them say, and mean it, “It could have been worse.”

Categories: Living Consciously | Tags: | 4 Comments

Baby New Year

Poor Baby New Year. Showing up in just a diaper and that little "Happy New Year" sash across its chest, it's going to be one freezing infant. In our part of the country, at least, it's arriving to subzero temperatures, wind, and snow. Someone really ought to replace that sash with a nice warm snowsuit.

One of the family gifts this Christmas was a CD with a collection of old and new family pictures scanned from various albums. One of my three sisters, with contributions from our mother, also created a book of pictures and stories about the four of us.

Both of these treasured collections include a photo of me, age six months, dressed—or rather undressed—in nothing but a diaper and a sash proclaiming "1952." Given my chubby belly and my round head with the barest beginnings of hair, nobody would mistake me for Miss America instead of Baby New Year.

I assume my scanty attire was temporary and that I wore a lot more than a sash for most of my first winter, because it was a cold year with memorable blizzards. For my parents, living in a tiny trailer with no plumbing or electricity, being snowed in with a baby and a three-year-old probably lost its appeal in a hurry. My father would ride horseback to one of the neighbors who lived on the gravel road, then go to town with them to get groceries.

Judging by the way it's starting out, this coming year might also bring heavy snow and blizzards. With our paved roads, four-wheel drives, improved weather forecasts, and all the rest of our 21st Century technology, we tend to think we're immune from the old-fashioned consequences of bad weather. Maybe so. But staying stocked up on groceries and library books, as well as keeping the woodpile stacked high, seems like a good idea just in case.

In that 1952 photo, my expression is willing but a little confused. It seems appropriate for an infant year on its first public appearance, since we can't ever know what that new year will bring. 

But it's here, and so are we. Maybe, on this cold winter day, that's all we need to know. Happy New Year!

Categories: Remembering When | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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