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A few thoughts about snow and cold weather

As I write this week’s column I am well aware that most of you have had about all you can stand of snow and bitter cold. It could be worse, and in fact it is in many other areas of the United States as well as other parts of the world.
We Johnson County folks are a hardy people and we usually take the weather as it comes. But, as I’ve been out and about the last few days, I’ve definitely heard some low level grumbling. In fact one fellow whose name I won’t disclose was heard to say he’d just about take a chance on the heat in Florida, hurricanes and all, to escape the kind of weather we’ve been having. Now personally I wouldn’t go that far.

On the news today there was a report of how freezing weather had dipped into Florida, endangering citrus and other crops. The report showed the ingenuity of the growers. They spray the fruit with water and when the water freezes the coating of ice protects the fruit.
There is ambiguity when it comes to snow. On the one hand snow is beautiful – especially as the sun, when there is sun, shines on it. It covers the ground and seems to blot out the dreariness of the winter months when leaves and foliage are gone.
On the other hand accidents caused by snow and ice as well as the expense and effort of trying to keep the roads clear are certainly not good things that come about because of snow.
As I was thinking about the weather we’ve been having lately, I remembered a poem I read several years ago that I really liked. The poem is “Snow-Bound” by John Greenleaf Whittier. It’s a long poem that has been called one of the most beautiful pastorals in American literature. Published in 1866, the poem deals with Whittier’s memory of when he was young and his family was snowed in. Activities ceased except for necessary chores such as caring for the animals and bringing wood in to heat the house. It was then that the family had time to sit around the fireplace and talk of their interesting experiences.

In the poem Whittier also let his mind wander to the changes that had taken place over time. Only he and his brother remained of the family. He reminisced about his father, mother and sister as well as an aunt and an uncle. It’s a long poem but worth the reading.
Another snow-related poem that came to my mind as I thought about the more than normal cold and snow we’ve had so far this year was “The Snow-Storm” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I was glad to find it in one of my high school freshman literature books. It is a beautiful descriptive poem set in a bygone time.
It is a short poem but the first verse impressed me as I could see in my mind’s eye the family sitting around the fireplace as the wind howled outside and snow covered the countryside. I will share the first verse with you.

“Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden’s end,
The sled and traveler stopped, the courier’s feet,
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.”

Anyway, as I think about the snow we have had and while I am less than delighted with the slick roads and added expenses it brings, I wouldn’t want to live where it doesn’t snow – at least not yet.