The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 29, 2012

Krohn: Snow kidding, we love when winter hits

By Tim Krohn
The Free Press

— We all love to talk of the discontent we suffer living in Minnesota between late December and the end of March.

But even the most cynical among us -- and there are few more jaded than newspaper reporters -- have a soft spot for the first snows of the season.

After the last stubborn oak leaves succumb and fall from the trees, the lawns show sickly brown and the garden remnants hang dry and sad, a fresh blanket of snow is welcome.

First snows make people giddy -- and not just the kids.

People get nicer after it snows, opening doors for others, helping people on icy sidewalks, chatting people up about the shared experiences of driving through the snow.

Snow is viewed differently depending on whether you live in the city or in the country. In-town, it means brushing off the car windows, shoveling the drive and going a little more slowly to work. In the country, it rearranges lives -- up very early to blow out drifted driveway, taking worrying drives through blowing snow and making intricate plans to be able to leave work early, before it gets dark.  

Kids in town go to the local sledding hill. Kids in the country get creative. Our dad had an old hood from a 1950s' car he'd turn upside down and chain to the back of  a tractor. Five kids would lay on the hood as he drove around the farmyard, the big hood careening off buildings, young ones occasionally sailing off the back.

Snow is more enjoyable when there's a measure of danger involved.

I'm not sure what people talk about when they live places where it's 75-degrees and sunny virtually every day. Maybe they have a lot of meaningful discussions about emotions and art. For the rest of us, we can fill any awkward moment with weather chat.

When The Weather Channel started back in the '80s I thought society had finally gone mad -- that we had reached such a level of inertness and stupidity that a TV channel showing nothing but weather forecasts 24-hours a day could be viable. But apparently a lot of people like to follow and talk about weather.

Now, meteorologist Jim Cantore is a superstar, showing up everywhere there's a storm surge to stand in. During Hurricane Sandy, an average of nearly 3 million viewers were glued to The Weather Channel.

I have to admit I sometimes find myself watching the Weather Channel forecasts with a mix of self-shame and odd fascination. I know I don't care about a nor'easter pounding New England or advection fog blanketing North Carolina, but I can't help watching. The model-like weather women move from coast to coast showing us weather information that is of no use to us -- but still we watch.

(There are dozens of web sites devoted to the women of The Weather Channel -- just Google it if you don't believe me. And don't ask me why I know this.)

Yes, we love our weather and Minnesota's a great place to be in the middle of it, from tornadoes to drought to rainstorms and snow.

We know the exuberance over the new snowfalls will be temporary. It will turn to dismay as the blizzards come, the temperatures fall and the shoveling becomes a torment.

But for now, we can enjoy.

Tim Krohn is a Free Press staff writer. He can be contacted at 344-6383 or tkrohn@mankatofreepress.com