On the Road Beyond Hancock

Today, I’m trying something different.  Here comes a poem…

afternoon fog lingers over the countryside

———-

fields do not roll…

they stretch, one after another

after another

after…

———-

the air I breathe is solid and white

it glimmers and the sunshine cannot break its hold

———-

as I pass by,

the silver patches

of tree branches laden with glisten & glaze

loom from the haze

winking

———-

is this real? I wonder

or is it all a dream?

———-

As I drove across the prairie yesterday afternoon, heading home from a visit to my college town, I found myself on unfamiliar roads in an afternoon fog.  The sun was shining, but I could not see more than twenty feet in front of me.  The land in that part of the state is unbelievably flat, with a big, open sky.  Everything was white–the air felt fathomless and empty.  Even though it was the middle of the afternoon, the trees were covered in hoar frost.  I pulled over to the side of the road, got out of my car, and spent several minutes taking in the view.

It felt like I had been dropped into a fairytale.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

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Kissing Snow

My best friend calls it kissing snow.

You know–the kind with big puffy flakes.  The kind that floats gently as you walk hand in hand with your significant other down the street.  You cross under a street lamp and, pausing, steal a kiss.

Minnesota is known for its winter.  Therefore, the fact that it snowed today is neither significant nor important.

But as I sat in the basement of the Humanities building for hours and hours upon end, I watched the fluffy flakes fall and fell into the happy land of my own imagination.  I’ve never experienced the full delight of kissing snow.  Every time it falls, I look forward to the day I have someone to share it with.

So even though snowfall isn’t something out of the ordinary, in the middle of a busy day, it made my heart a little bit lighter.

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Campus in the snow. Taken from my University’s Facebook page.

 

 

The right to complain

Minnesotans have every right to complain about the weather.

Sorry, other parts of America.  I know that you’ve had some unprecedented weather-related incidents this winter.  Snowstorms in the South, unusual low temperatures, etc.  I understand, but remain fairly unsympathetic.

In Minnesota, you quickly learn the difference between the different kinds of winter storms.

First, there are snowstorms, which are exactly as they sound and result in heavy amounts of snow.

Second, there are blizzards.  Sometimes, blizzards involve snowfall, but for the most part, they are significant because of wind.  Whiteout conditions occur, limiting visibility.  High winds push the temperature down significantly.

This year, a third term has been inducted into winter weather vocabulary : the Polar Vortex.  Basically… these occur when the weather from Canada is dumped on Minnesota, resulting in extreme subzero temperatures.  In a Polar Vortex, only a few minutes of exposure can easily lead to frostbite.  Lengthy exposures lead to hypothermia and potentially death.

We’re in the midst of the third Polar Vortex this winter.  Although, in reality, it has felt like one constant stream of terrifying cold.  For a solid month, the high never reached above zero.  Where I live on the open prairie, the wind always blows.  When the high is already below zero, the windchill temperature plummets.  In January, we basically had three straight weeks where it was negative thirty.  I stayed indoors for two straight days because going outside could kill me.  One of my classmates is from Alaska, and he informed me the other day that winters here are on par with ones he experiences back home.

Do you see?  Do you now understand?

Minnesotans have every right to complain about the weather.

We endure the ungodly conditions.  We brave the roads in blizzards.  We wake up in the wee hours of morning to shovel our driveways.  We carry on, month after month, until Spring finally comes.

Unfortunately, Spring here doesn’t usually arrive until mid-April.  Which means I’ve still got a month and a half to exercise my right to complain.

To all of you in warmer climates, enjoy it.  You don’t know what you’re missing–and be thankful for that.

A note on blizzards

The tiny town on the middle of the prairie where I attend school has been struck by a blizzard.  And, like any respectable college student, I compare my suffering to Disney movies.  Specifically, I compare my suffering with Disney movies that deal with snow, ice, and all the magical goodness that Minnesota winters bring.  Yes, I’m talking about Frozen.

(Spoilers ahead.)

You know the scene, near the end, where Elsa’s emotions spiral so out of control that Arendelle is lost amid a massive swirling cloud?  Desperate to melt her frozen heart, our spunky protagonist and the tender-hearted mountain man brave the elements, struggling toward each other through the terrifying cold and whipping snow.  Valiantly they push through the storm, determined against all odds to find each other before it’s too late…

That’s how I felt walking to class today.

My face was numb after about thirty seconds and the wind nearly pushed me to the ground several times.  Yet still I struggled, putting one foot after another, determined against all odds to reach my destination.

The only difference between my day and Frozen is there was no Kristoff waiting for me on the other side of the blizzard. No.  No lovable mountain man to melt the despair I felt at the prospect of risking my life for the sake of my education.  In his place was class, professors, and homework.

I wish my life were a Disney movie.