It’s another snow day. Prepare for a curmudgeonly rant.
Schools are closed. Once again, for a storm in the forecast, not for any conditions present at the beginning of the day. When I was a kid we counted years between snow days. Now we count the days or weeks.
You’ve doubtless heard about folks who claim to have walked uphill 5 miles both ways to get to school. Obviously, that’s hyperbole. But my brother and I shared a pair of boots. I carried him to school in the morning. He wore the boots and carried me home in the afternoon. He was bigger so we figured he would be stronger in the afternoon. “Oh, you had it easy!” my neighbor says. “You had a pair of boots! We had one boot between us, so we had to carry each other to school while hopping on one foot!”
It was actually easier to get to school in a snowstorm. Being Finlanders, we always had a pair of skis around and they were less size-dependent than boots.
We didn’t cancel school because of the cold, and wind chill was not an issue – it was the CRT of its time, an esoteric school of thought known only to meteorologists, not the public.
I remember days so cold that, when we talked on the way to school, the words froze in mid-air and we had to carry them into the building and thaw them out in order to have a conversation. If someone was particularly wordy, we’d sometimes have to toss some out when they became too heavy to carry. Conversation would be harder to follow due to the missing words.
If the roads were too icy, we’d skate to school. Skates were easier to afford than boots, as we had a Skate Exchange, where you could trade outgrown skates in for new ones.
So the next time you hear someone complain about they rough they have it, remember it is nothing like it was in 1948.
I hit the Lake Geneva Snow Sculpture contest while still in progress this year. That meant two things: 1) sculptors were still working and; 2) it was a lot more crowded than when going the Monday after it ends. With above-freezing temperatures in the forecast, I was afraid of too much melting by Monday.
Teams came from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota, Colorado, Alaska, New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
I walked down to the lake to ski, figuring it was warming up too quickly to want to spend the time to go somewhere with hills. I walked home for lunch, then rode my bike to a lagoon on the other side of the isthmus to skate. Does that count as a triathlon – cross-country skiing, biking, ice skating?
Overheard from a toddler in a stroller talking to his dad.
I skied across the lake to Olbrich Park, home of this seasonal labyrinth, made from donated Christmas trees by artist Lillian Sizemore. That’s where I met the toddler and the dad.
The installation included a “tree museum”, made infamous by Joni Mitchell in the song “Big Yellow Taxi”. “You take all the trees Put ’em in a tree museum. Ya charge the people A dollar and a half just to see ’em.”
There was no charge for this tree museum, but it included a selection of trees commonly used as Christmas trees in these parts, each with a card explaining where the tree is native, how long it can live, and how tall it will grow. They included Scotch and White Pine; Canaan, Frasier, Balsam, and Douglas Fir; Norway, Colorado Blue, and Red Spruce; and Arborvitae.
Meanwhile, as I got off my bike after work, I heard a commotion in the hydrangeas. It wasn’t Mary Hatch from “It’s a Wonderful Life”. It was a Peregrine falcon with a mouse in its talons, tearing through the dried canes and trying to get airborne again. It was maybe ten feet from me. It did not share the snack.
Lake Geneva Winterfest
The winterfest in Lake Geneva (no, Martha, not that Lake Geneva) is over, but that just means the crowd was smaller to look at the snow sculptures. The snow here has been too cold and fluffy for sculpting, so I have no contributions of my own except the photos. The gallery images sometimes get cropped by your browser, so click to open in fullscreen.
There were also ice sculptures. On the shady side of the street they were still in pretty good shape.