Social media feeds are freezing up with dire warnings about the cold that is headed our way.
“This is not something to mess around with,” warns a Facebook post by the Cedar Rapids Police Department. “The cold temperatures combined with the wind could be potentially life-threatening.”
And no, I don’t think when I was a lad in the 1970s that we would have been terribly hardier and more able to stand it than we are now. I recall lots of school snow days, and our older homes were vulnerable to cracked pipes. My dad used to have to put a heating lamp on the battery of the VW micro bus overnight on these super cold nights in the sometimes-vain hope it would start in the morning. Cars back in my youth were terrible winter vehicles—the VWs would take forever to warm up, but at least had their engines over the drive train. American cars, with their ridiculous rear-wheel-drive, were hopeless compared to today’s relatively hardier, better-designed vehicles.
Still, I want to praise winter. Hear me out before you throw something.
In December, the weather was so mild that we wondered if winter would ever come (spoiler alert, it would). I had planted several milkweed seeds, and in December I wondered if they would get the cold-weather signals that they needed to germinate. Native milkweed is planted in fall because it won’t sprout until it experiences winter.
Well, I’m guessing the seeds have got the memo by now. Sure enough it does look like winter has arrived—with a vengeance.
One student who I follow on Twitter had lamented a few weeks ago that she was wanting some snow. As an Iowa gardener, so was I. And to quote a meme posted by Fr. Dustin Vu, “If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow.”
But, yeah, I’ve had enough snow now, thank you.
The thermometer is going to drop and keep on dropping as the winds pick up. We already have a substantial snow pack, and got more snow last night.
It is also supposed to warm up this weekend—and rain. On the snow. Followed by another chill down. And more snow.
The winter of 2019 is making a name for itself, and I’m too polite to repeat it.
But winter still has its charms. Snow is pretty. All of the images on this post are taken by me in January 2019 in my Iowa backyard. I think they are pretty. Snow crunches pleasantly underfoot, it makes it easy to pick out the cardinal couple that visits my bird feeders, the winter air is fresh and wholesome—when it’s 20 above zero and not 20 below.
So, no, I do not hate winter. But no, I’m also not completely out of my mind—I don’t love the deep, deep arctic blast we are in for.
Stay safe out there my friends. Pay heed to the CR PD and weather service and every weather station. Don’t mess around when Mother Nature is seeking your demise.
And there is an upside to this season. I like winter when it is not so extreme. The fall bulbs I planted are now somewhat protected by a white blanket. When it finally warms up a bit (and we know that the cold we have this week will not hold, our hemisphere is slowly turning again to face the nearest star), snow people and sledding and snowball fights with grandchildren will again become practical rather than dangerous.
The seed catalogs have started to arrive. A flowerful aisle has appeared as if by magic in a local farm store—filled with colorful pictures and little pots where you can start baby plants.
We’re almost to February. The signs are there. Even I, a fan of winter, will concede that the best thing about it is that it will end. We may yet have a long slog of cold weather ahead, but it is inevitable:
Spring is coming.