Opinion Columns & Blogs

Snow prettiest from 3,000 miles away

As I watched the TV footage of East Coasters digging themselves out of snow mounds last week, I gave a sigh of relief that I no longer have to wrestle with Old Man Winter.

I’ll take a Central Coast thunderstorm anytime — even one that knocks down trees and zaps our electricity for a few days — over paralyzing snow storms.

I’ve mentioned in previous columns that I grew up in Detroit, attended college in Missouri and took my first reporting job in Indiana, where winter can be downright brutal. There were days when I dreaded waking up in the morning to find my car locks so frozen that the only remedy was to boil hot water and pour it on the car door.

My body would tense up at the thought of driving on impassable roads as slippery as an oil slick. I’ll never forget when my sister’s car spun 360 degrees on the icy highway, placing us in front of an oncoming truck.

Even walking outside took some bravado as frigid temperatures have a way of invading the thickest of thermal underwear and seeping into your bones.

There were times when all you could do was hunker down inside and hope that the blizzard would stop, and that the sun would melt enough of the snow to bring you out of hibernation.

While I wouldn’t trade the mild temps here for treacherous weather, I confess that the so-called “Snowpocalypse” that has shut down government offices and power on the East Coast has me longing for a taste of those Midwestern winters.

When I was a child, there was nothing better than putting on my puffy snowsuit and heading outdoors to jump in the freshly fallen snow covering our lawn. I couldn’t help but feel like Peter, the little boy in Ezra Jack Keats’ children’s story, “The Snowy Day.”

On the rare occasion when school was canceled, my friends and I would have contests to see who could make the biggest snow castle or the best snow angel. Mom would always provide an old carrot and some raisins that would become the nose and eyes for the snowman.

After our adventures in the snow, I would shake off my wet boots and sip hot chocolate while my toes thawed in front of the heat register.

The motorists, pedestrians and airline travelers in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia would probably curse me if they read this, but beauty can be found in the wintry mix.

The latest storm system, no doubt, has packed a punch, and believe me, it can be difficult to see the merits of an environment that can be so harsh on the body and spirit.

Of course, I can afford to be nostalgic living in a place where the closest thing we get to a blizzard is the occasional snowfall in the North County. So, although it’s fun to reminisce, it’s not enough for me to pack my bags and head deep into the tundra. I’d rather visit in the spring.

Julie Lynem is the enterprise editor and a columnist for The Tribune.