I swore to myself this year that I would forgo any new diatribes about winter. I have whined enough on that topic.
But on Monday night, I was leaving work several hours after this week’s cold front had moved in. It was late and dark, and no one else was in the parking lot.
Just as I stepped out onto the open lot, my foot hit a patch of ice and I began desperately flailing to keep from falling. For a few seconds, I resembled one of those radical interpreters of modern dance, arms going in every direction, feet flying and flapping, body twisting and contorting every which way.
Somehow, I managed not to fall. I laughed, because, as the only witness to this ridiculous jitterbug on ice, someone had to. But it also was a bit terrifying.
I could have taken a header, and if no one discovered me in time, I could have become an ice sculpture.
It was enough to remind me that even a little bit of harsh winter weather is too much.
But that’s it. Out of respect for those up north who truly are suffering through weeks of tortuous winter weather, I will not indulge in another tirade about South Carolina’s great winter storm of ’15 (unless, of course, we get blasted again sometime in the next month or two).
Weather forecasters and news media of all types know that the potential for severe weather is pure gold. People will devour speculation about a coming storm like buttered popcorn, staring raptly at swirling, psychedelic-hued graphics, lines, arrows and projected temperatures, tracking the progress of the storm every five minutes, listening intently to TV reporters dressed in polar gear exclaiming about the blizzard to come.
Anticipating the “big one,” people will strip grocery stores of milk and bread. (Why milk and bread? Why not, say, wine and pork chops?)
But in many cases, the storm fails to live up to the hype. It peters out, veers away or, for whatever reason, fails to materialize.
This often produces a perverse combination of relief and disappointment. Yes, we managed to dodge that Arctic bullet, but it might have been fun to see just how bad things could have gotten.
Thankfully, this week’s winter storm amounted to about a quarter-inch of ice covering just about everything. As noted, it was bad enough but not that bad.
If you wanted to see really bad, just check out the stories streaming out of the Boston area. The misery can be read on the faces of the people being interviewed.
All the reporter has to do was ask something insipid: “Hey, what do you think of this weather?”
There is no attempt to be clever or stalwart or optimistic about escaping this torture any time soon. What is reflected in the faces of the interviewees is abject despair.
They point to nearby mountains of snow, piled up because there was nowhere else to put it. They talk about trying to do ordinary things, such as starting their cars, walking the dog, going to the store, and how everything had become an ordeal. Their hollowed-out faces beseech: When will it end?
When I went out for a walk Thursday morning, the thermometer read 19 degrees. That’s cold, but if you keep moving, you warm up.
The low in Boston was 1 degree. In Buffalo, it was minus-6. In my old stomping grounds, Cincinnati, it was minus-14.
Add wind, and you’re looking at temperatures that slash right down to the bone.
In Rock Hill on Thursday, the sun shone all day. Only a few pockets of ice remained in the shadows. The roads were dry and easy to maneuver.
None of my pipes have frozen (although even writing that makes me nervous). Despite the chill, the dog has been willing to go outside, sniff the air and make his morning rounds. The gas logs work fine. The beer on the back porch is exceptionally cold.
In other words, things could be a lot worse. I could be in Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Fargo, Minneapolis, Burlington, Bangor ...
And what’s that I see popping through the cold winter’s ground? Ahh, it’s daffodils!