The weather alert
By Holly Martin
Last week the weather was a beautiful 70 degrees here in Dodge City. The sun was shining and we were thoroughly enjoying the Indian summer afternoon. Shortly after I returned from lunch, I sat down at my desk and my phone beeped. It was a winter weather advisory from my helpful weather app. I’d seen the forecast earlier and was choosing to ignore it, but this rude beep in the middle of the blissful day was just a reminder that we live in Kansas where the weather is never the same for long. By the next day, the temperature had dropped and then we soon had snow. And the mercury hasn’t risen much since. It was a bitter and swift introduction to winter, and I wasn’t prepared.
It caused me to think about the sophistication of today’s world. In 2013, a tiny little box in my pocket alerted me to the change in weather. What would those pioneers traveling across the West in covered wagons think? Could they even conceive of a telephone, let alone a wireless one that also connects to another person on the opposite side of the globe? Or could they imagine having it send specialized alerts based on predetermined weather conditions?
I can imagine a group of settlers riding along on a gloriously warm sunshiny afternoon in November, saying their praise for the good weather they were experiencing. Not 24 hours later, they would need bundles of warm clothes to keep the chilling wind at bay. Did they watch for signs around them that told them a winter storm was coming? Did they sense a change in the wildlife that told of the impending storm? Those pioneers would need to be flexible and prepared for anything Mother Nature threw at them. And even then, when they were prepared, the tough times were still often too much. People who weren’t literally frozen in some of those storms were badly frostbitten. They succumbed to pneumonia or other disease. Mothers buried children. Husbands buried wives.
Let’s just agree that I wouldn’t be cut out for that. I would have bailed somewhere about St. Louis. I’ll take my handy smartphone with the weather app that tells me to wear my wool coat tomorrow. I’ll take the programmable thermostat hooked to central heat that keeps my family toasty warm, regardless of the windchill in western Kansas.
But, I think it is important to remember that we’re spoiled in today’s world. I am thankful for those pioneers who didn’t bail—for those who were tough and determined and saw the beauty and potential in the undiscovered land of the High Plains and were willing to do what it took to survive.
If we come to forget those who lived before us—those who survived and suffered with much less—we will have lost the toughness that made our drive for success so ingrained. I pledge each time I hear that weather alert to think of those pioneers and be grateful for their toughness.
Holly Martin can be reached by phone at 1-800-452-7171, ext. 1806, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.