Letter From Home “Old-Timer’s Saying” 1/30/21

“Sure does feel stormy today.”

To me it was a fact given the brisk wind and moisture in the air, but also my way to break the ice as I gave my name to the young man who was to place the ordered groceries in the trunk of the car. He got my name but said he was not sure what I meant about a storm.

“You can feel the storm that is soon to arrive.”

He rather shrugged his shoulders and with a mask on there was no way to tell if he understood what I was conveying or just wishing to move along with his job.

As I stood outside my car, and some distance away to give him space, I heard the murmur of the winds in the trees that surrounded the neighborhood where the store is located. The fluffy snow that had fallen earlier this week was seeping off the store roof and blowing about so to make for a super-thin coating on a nearby sidewalk. I looked up at the cloudy gray skies as the occasional snow dusting from the roof landed on my hat and coat. It looked like and felt akin to the yesterdays of my youth.

That sifting movement of the snow was seen so often wafting off the roofs of our home and the ‘barn’ in Hancock. Hearing the wind in the trees I could almost see the tall pines of my youth, their snow-covered branches moving about as the winter gusts had their way.

And I thought about the young man, who was making the delivery of the groceries to the car, with my deep appreciation for his work during this pandemic. It probably did not register at all with him as to what a storm feels like. I have often encountered that people in an urban environment have a far different connection to weather than folks who live in the country. Having come from a rural upbringing that feel in the air, the clouds that are associated with the seasons, or the switch in wind direction were parts of our lives. Part of the reason for being so attuned was that decades ago people would follow the forecast and then shape their work projects around the weather.

I can recall countless times when weeding the garden was planned after the latest storm was to pass over as the wet ground would allow for the pesky plants to be ripped out with ease. Likewise, there was always a meal more suited for a stormy winter night where the warmth of the oven being on for hours would add to the comfort of the family home.

Those same patterns of living have followed me over the decades. Ham is slated for our home on the isthmus Sunday, and all the mundane projects–like picking up the groceries– are completed so that a nice winter day can be enjoyed. Though it should be noted, that in the past year of this virus driving to the store seems almost like an outing. That is either a mighty sad statement, or can be viewed as finding the upside in a different type of storm.

As a boy in winter, I loved to get bundled up and head outdoors. “Run around the house a few times and get rid of your energy” seemed to be repeated request from Mom. Or was that an order? One of the greatest thrills on really wintry days was to venture around the house and head in a southwesterly direction, from where some of the best winter storms came. Gathering moisture over the panhandle region and mixing with the cold air moving down from Canada were the essential ingredients for a massive snow event that might make central Wisconsin look like the perfect picture postcard.

I can still see the sky colored a grayish-dark blue and the horizon blurred with a foggy whitish hue. The blowing snow came in sheets and the blasts that drove them would take my breath away as I made the turn around the family home. I would struggle to reposition my head and gasp for a breath, and then again face the onslaught of wind and walk into the snow piles that drifted in the same place where summer picnics would have occurred the previous July.

It takes those types of experiences bundled over a lifetime that allows for a person to step off the front stoop, look upwards, feel the air, and know that it “Sure does feel stormy today.”

And so it goes.