Counting the blessings, one flake at a time
By Jennifer M. Latzke
There is a lot to hate about snowstorms.
First there's the pre-storm hype from news outlets and the National Weather Service. For a full week before the first flake each outlet tries to top the others in its total estimates of snowfall, scope of the snowfall, and when the first flakes will fall. All the while the crowds at the stores get crazier and crazier, and the true nature of your neighbors is on display. Will they fight over the last gallon of milk or the last case of beer? Will there be blows over the last snow shovel on the rack? Will there be fuel when you finally get to pull up to the pump?
Then, there's the lost production as people are forced to stay home from work, school and other activities. The postponements, the re-schedulings, and the cancellations scroll across the bottoms of our TVs and over our smartphones. No doubt it's a hassle to cram two days' worth of work into one to try to beat the snowstorm. (Especially in a business like High Plains Journal where we live and die by deadlines so that we can keep the mail trucks rolling and the paper in your mailboxes in a timely fashion.)
There's the shoveling, the sweating and panting and fear for a heart attack in the front yard. In farm country, not only do you have to shovel your driveways, but feed bunks and paths to the calving sheds and the milking parlors. You have to keep that crotchety feed truck with the tricky starter running, the tractor with the plow blade going and the wife's car cleared and ready in case there's an emergency with the kids.
Inside, it's no less hectic. The excitement over canceled school lasts about a half an hour until the first complaints of boredom start. So children must be kept occupied and entertained, lunch needs to get started in the crockpot and all too often there's a few baby calves, goats or lambs to keep warm by the kitchen stove--on the freshly mopped kitchen floor. While your youngest is underfoot and complaining that she wants to go outside and make a snowman and your oldest is complaining that the satellite TV is out because the dish is covered in a foot of snow.
Yes, snowstorms are a pain in the rump.
But, there's as much to love about snowstorms, if you only take the time to appreciate them.
With today's advanced weather predicting capabilities, we know further in advance when to expect those first flakes and we can plan accordingly. If you do it right, you can avoid the crazy crowds at the grocery store and the fuel pumps. You can even plan for your favorite comfort foods and beverages. Because chicken noodle soup and fresh bread make the house smell great and just hit the spot after that bout of shoveling.
Then, there's the peace and quiet of those first snowflakes falling and the sound of the wind building drifts against the house and the barn that quiet your soul. And, if you're lucky, the knowledge that you can sleep a little longer under the toasty covers because you aren't going anywhere today.
And yes, shoveling snow isn't fun, but it is good exercise. It's also a good opportunity to teach young people responsibility for livestock. It's also a time to show them that good hearted neighbors look after each other and make sure that their older neighbors are warm and their sidewalks are cleared.
Think about all of the memories you make on a snow day--the snowmen, the snow angels, the snowball fights and forts. There's time on a snow day, when all the chores are done, that dads and moms turn into little kids sledding and making snow ice cream.
And, when the sun breaks through and starts to melt the piles, even though it's a hassle, farmers and ranchers sure are grateful for the slush and mud.
Yep, a snow day--with all its faults--is a perfect fleeting moment from Heaven to remind us of our blessings. One flake at a time.
Jennifer M. Latzke can be reached at 620-227-1807 or firstname.lastname@example.org.