Thursday, December 5, 2013

Great white north

Winter weather land has arrived right on time.

Get on the train or be left at the station

One of the greatest benefits of living in Wisconsin’s great white north is, to be blunt, the great whiteness. White-out snow conditions can blast through with little to no warning, stay all day and night, and leave nary a hint of the normal landscape left recognizable. Yes, that's a benefit.

It’s a benefit because the world becomes new, and from new things inspiration springs eternal. Our surroundings change in appearance and our daily routines change out of necessity. We become more dependent upon each other, so our interactions shift. Suddenly a neighborly gesture such as shoveling a walk or driveway carries a lot more weight; resources like foodstuffs, outdoor clothing, and plenty of hot beverages become essential.

Now, it’s easy to take these things for granted, or even (commonly) grumble about them. Trust me, it’s not my favorite thing to be pushing heavy, wet, frozen precipitation around for six months a year, but I think the innate qualities that come with it are worth the extra work.

Try to be observant. That is, don’t take the winter for granted - celebrate it. Think of all the people that never experience a white Christmas. Think of all the people that have never tried skiing, or ice fishing, or building snow forts at school and snowmen in their front yards. Heck, think of all the southern dwellers that don’t even get to take part in the traditional routine of complaining about the cold and snow.

I was in college at one time, where a decent number of students attending were not used to the cold or the amount of snow that came with winter time up here. I remember one kid I knew in particular. He was from California, and while I cannot say exactly what brought him all the way up here, I can tell you that he was not used to the harshness of our winters.

One day we got hit by a blizzard, but classes were not canceled. Students broke out their snow gear and trekked through the snow-covered campus in all sorts of boots and hats and coats, but this one guy had nothing but flimsy shoes and a light jacket (actually, I guess a lot of kids made that mistake). As our history instructor called the class into session with comments on the weather, California expressed his disbelief that school was in session. I’ll never forget what the professor told him that day, “Buddy, get on the train or be left at the station.” That is to say, get over it and adapt or suffer the rest of the winter because it’s not going away.

He wasn’t stubborn for much longer, and in fact joined the snowboard team later in the season.

Four times a year we get to reinvent our lives up here. Every season is so different and carries such unique properties that each completely rearranges our patterns of life. I’ll tell you what I’m looking forward too: warm holidays inside, fresh air outside, ice on the lakes, and watching the silence of a snowfall at night. It must be an opportunity then, rather than a burden, to live through snow season in the great white north.

See you out there,
A woodsman in training.

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