Today will be a quintessential indoor day. It’s 33 degrees outside, freezing rain has coated the steps and trees and bushes in the backyard, like the one shown above, in a coat of wet, dripping ice, and a hard rain is still pelting down under flat gray skies — and is supposed to continue all day. It’s the kind of day when walking on frozen brick is especially treacherous, when an umbrella will quickly become heavy with ice, and you’re likely to find yourself taking an unwelcome pratfall that leaves you bruised and soaked.
So why risk the elements? Why not accept nature’s wintry verdict, do a few chores inside, and find a good book to read or a TV show to binge watch? Sometimes surviving the bleakness of winter requires acceptance — and savvy avoidance.
Yesterday I walked to and from the office with temperatures in the 20s and a sharp, cutting wind reddening my face and sending my suddenly flimsy raincoat flapping around my legs.
This morning I woke up and, as I stood in our warm kitchen sipping a blessedly hot cup of coffee, I heard rain on the roof. I looked out into the backyard in the pre-dawn darkness and saw the glittering evidence of the Queen Mother of Crappy Weather on every plant, tree, shrub, and fencepost. Yes, that’s right — a dreaded onslaught of freezing rain has coated every object in ice. Freezing rain, for those lucky people who’ve never experienced it, means that it’s not quite cold enough for precipitation to fall as snow, but just cold enough for the rain to turn to ice once it hits the ground. It’s the worst winter weather of all because it’s cold, and wet, and frozen all at once, and it means the commute this morning will be slick and treacherous for drivers and pedestrians alike. There’s a breeze, too, and the weather page helpfully reports that it feels like 22 degrees out there.
It’s the kind of weather that makes February in Columbus inarguably the worst weather month of the year. But, it’s only November 15. Hey, Mother Nature! What gives?
We’ve once again experienced an abrupt mash-up of the seasons here in the Midwest. True fall weather has been fleeting, and it seems like we’ve moved directly and too quickly into winter. For those people, like me, who think autumn is the best season of the year — well, we feel cheated. We know Old Man Winter is going to arrive sooner or later, but can’t he at least wait until after we’ve had our Thanksgiving dinner before he hits us with freezing rain and another round of “wintry mix”?
If you’re in the Midwest, brace yourself, because it’s too cold too soon . . . again.
Grandma Neal often said: “Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can; it’s seldom found in woman, but never found in man.”
Winter in the Midwest has a way of teaching patience.
Consider freezing rain. When it hits, as it did this morning, there’s not much you can do. With your car windows and windshield covered in a thick coat of wet ice, you’ve got to wait until the defroster melts part of the ice before you can even start scraping. And you’d better take you time walking, too.
Is power outages. We are having one tonight as we weather the latest Winter Storm of the Century.
It has been cold and raining steadily for hours, and everything outside is encased in ice. Just as I was going to watch the Illinois-Penn State game, the lights flickered briefly, then died. Obviously, the weight of the ice has pulled down power lines, just as it will pull down tree limbs. Whatever happened, it was enough to affect our entire subdivision. A look out the window confirms there are no lights on anywhere. I’m betting power won’t be restored for hours.
So, we sit in the darkness, listening to the drumming of the rain that caused the darkness in the first place. Yet another reason why freezing rain sucks.
This morning I looked out the windows, saw the telltale gleaming shine on the driveway and road, and felt my heart sink. Of all of the crappy meteorological phenomena we encounter during a typical Midwestern winter, freezing rain is — by far — the worst.
Snowstorms are inconvenient, but you quickly adapt to driving through snow and can shovel your way out of most predicaments. Sleet is grey and depressing, but manageable. With freezing rain, there is no hope. You can’t even get down your front steps without slipping, because everything is covered in a layer of wet ice. The tree limbs and shrubs bow down and sometimes break under the weight. Streets become like skating rinks because there is no traction, and even the gentle slope of your driveway becomes a difficult, ice-sheathed obstacle. This morning, on our very brief walk, even the sure-footed Penny was slipping and skidding. And I can assure you that the quick and unpredictable movements of a leashed dog are not conducive to careful human movement on frozen streets and sidewalks.
So I sit here, secure in the knowledge that today’s commute will be a white-knuckler. It will take about two times as long as normal. We’ll see cars that have spun out and crashed into the median barrier. We’ll be told on the radio that only injury accidents need to be reported to the police. And we’ll pray that, as we are tooling along, we don’t experience that dreaded initial loss of traction and “here we go” feeling that makes freezing rain the worst winter weather of all.