I reject winter and its empty promises. Lately I’ve seen a chart online that highlights regional differences in reactions to winter storms, a chart which lionizes Midwestern stoicism. I believe this Midwestern toughness in the face of ridiculous weather is due to two factors: an army of snow plow trucks stocked with road salt and a denial of reality. I lived outside the Midwest just long enough to lose this hysterical blindness to snow and ice. It’s like the opposite of that suspension of disbelief that allows us to enjoy fictions of all sorts. Once we in the Midwest outgrow the hope of school delays and cancellations and are crestfallen to realize that winter weather excuses us from almost no adult responsibilities, we prefer to talk lots about snow in the past and future tenses but ignore it in the present moment.
Spending four winters outside the Midwest restored my perception of snow. Each year I am dismayed to see that the winter driving season starts with a single car traffic fatality in my county. It’s like Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” happens every year here courtesy of the first snow or ice, and the news report of such an event is a necessary reminder to change one’s driving style for the season. It’s as if the reality of that first snow on the road is not enough in itself to caution most drivers around here.