Minus forty degree wind chills described as â€œbracing.â€ Wave after wave of snowfall described as â€œjust enough to freshen the landscape.â€ Icy roads that â€œkeep our driving skills honedâ€. Itâ€™s becoming harder and harder to come up with euphemisms that uplift as winter wears on. And on. And on. If I hear one more, â€œWell, we are hardy Minnesotans after allâ€¦â€ I may throw up and then utter, â€œUffda.â€ (I suspect vomit freezes on contact in this weather, but Iâ€™m not anxious to find out.)
Thus far there have been at least five days of school cancelled due to the weather, which is abnormal even for us so-called hardy Minnesotans. Iâ€™m not sure if weâ€™ve changed as a culture, or school policy has changed, or both.
At the risk of sounding like an old timer, I recall waiting for the bus in sub-zero temperatures as a child in rural Minnesota. My brothers and I would stare down the road for any signs of yellow, stomp our feet, and blow into our hand-knitted mittens. One diversion, other than lobbing snowballs at each other, was to inhale as sharply as we could through our nostrils. The goal was to get our nostrils to freeze together, which they usually did. It was fun. Sorta.
Not that it was much warmer on the bus once it did arrive. Plumes of breathe parked above each seated child, and the frost on the windows was so thick we could rarely see out. At least the ice-coated windowpanes gave us something to scratch scenes and bad words into that didnâ€™t last longâ€¦ six, seven, monthâ€™s tops, or about when spring arrived again in late June. It was a little like natureâ€™s Etch-a-Sketch.
The only times I remember school closing was if a major snowstorm was in process. Not expected, in process, and exhibiting white-out conditions. Getting out of school early was exciting. As we rumbled along in the wintery rage, there was a time or two Mom had to use the tractor to pull the bus out of a snow bank. We didnâ€™t care! We were out of school an hour or two early. It was a different era, with different expectations of â€œnormal.â€
So, as the euphemisms pile up as high as the drifts of glistening snow in 2014, I will try to see the bright side. My nostrils have yet to freeze together, but I admittedly havenâ€™t tested that old game as an adult. I havenâ€™t gotten stuck in a snowdrift, but I have done my fair share of tire spinning on unplowed roads.
If a healthy attitude turns lemons into lemonade, make mine a slushy with a shot of vodka and a tiny pink umbrella to warm the imagination. After all, spring will be here again in six or seven months tops.