Winter panic

Friday, January 6, 2012

It hardly seems like winter with January in the 60s, like we've had this week. Yet any day now, our fortunes will reverse and the white stuff will come falling from the sky.

So first, this seems like a sensible time to think about dealing with winter. When winter becomes reduced to an occasional phenomena instead of an every day occurrence, it becomes rather hard to take seriously.

This may explain why local schools don't bother to create snow routes or direct more remote children to go to different locations where buses can reach them. Winter has become little more than a periodic annoyance, like a downpour of rain.

Something that happens so infrequently can be mostly ignored. If it costs a few days of work or school, fine.

This would be a more reasonable attitude if we lived in Eureka Springs, with a hill around every turn. For the relatively flat Monett area, resigning to a winter fate seems a bit extreme.

And yet, at the first declaration on coming snow, widespread panic will set in. Predictably people will stampede to the grocery store and the gas station as if they will never see the light of day again. The wild rush gets worse the more people talk about it and see others headed in that direction.

What other phenomena stirs the public in these parts like the fear of winter? It's not like temperatures ever get that bad in southwest Missouri, or stay below zero for an extended period. If the widespread sense that winter only lasts a short while holds true, why should it inspire such deep rooted dread?

If we only saw such a reaction from people who moved from to southwest Missouri from California, who aren't used to real winter, it would make more sense. Or if people who had moved here from northern states flew into an uproar for not fully escaping the season that drove them out of their old homes, the reaction would make more sense. But no. It's more like a local in-joke, where everyone likes to get in on the fun, like riding white knuckled on a very steep roller coaster.

So while we have a few days of non-winter in January, think about keeping the gas tank no lower than half-full for a few months. Stock some extra stuff in the frig and in the pantry. If winter suddenly comes, you may need an extra gallon of milk for the kids, but not much more.

Sure, riding a steep roller coaster can be fun, especially if everybody else is doing it. But laughing at winter----because you can----provides a fair amount of entertainment on its own. Don't forget it was a long time between the super ice storms of 1987 and 2007. If winter really comes, you'll be ready.