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Snow, and it’s not kidding (02/28/2007)
By Frances Edstrom

I think our neighbor Jim Bambenek said it best, as he took a break from blowing snow for the umpteenth time: "Cheer up! This could be December."

A woman who is fairly new to Winona asked, in a barely contained panic, if this was considered usual winter weather for Winona. I assured her that it was not, knowing in my heart that with the capricious nature of weather, it is entirely possible that we could have a couple of exceptionally snowy winters. But that wouldn't make it usual, that would be unusual, wouldn't it?

I, frankly, loved the weekend storms. Of course I will admit right up front that I did not have to lift a shovelful of the wet snow.

On Friday night, we went to watch the WSU basketball game. As we left the house, I asked John if he thought I should wear boots. There were a few flakes in the air, but he thought we'd be home before it really started to snow heavily. Wrong. We exited the gym to find about five inches on the ground, and it was snowing so hard it was affecting visibility. Not far from our car was the UM-Crookston bus, ready to take their teams home. I couldn't believe they were going to attempt the trip.

I have to digress here. The Warrior boys team is a thing of beauty to watch. Natural talent and phenomenal coaching have created a marvel of beautifully choreographed basketball. Adding to the spectacle is the announcer, WSU professor emeritus Brice Wilkinson, who channels the greats " Harry Caray, Curt Gowdy " adding an entertaining audio component to the already exciting game. Then there are the cheerleaders, the half-time dancers, the HyVee musical basketball game for the kids, and the in-the-stand antics from the student fans " it's a show not to be missed. The student fans, decked out in WSU purple, have a ritual they perform when the home team is at the free throw line: the player is at the line, the crowd counts down, claps their hands in unison above their heads, rubbing their hands together as the ball arcs towards the basket. If the ball goes in they utter a communal "whoosh " and execute a final clap. If not, well, wait until next time. I asked around, and although lots of people can describe the ritual, they can't tell me its origin. It seems to be working, though. The team is 27 and 0!

On Saturday morning, the dog and I watched as the neighborhood was a hive of activity. The dog, who in his younger years loved to frolic in the snow, refused to go out of the house. Finally, John had to dig him a path in the snow leading out of the back door, and even then we had to give him a friendly knee in the hind end to get him outside. Poor guy, nothing to sniff. Our across-the-street dachshund, Walter, had no such aversion to the snow, bouncing around like Tigger through drifts ten times his height. Ah, to be young again, our dog sighed.

I know that there are many women who regularly use snow blowers, but as we drove around town, it seemed a disproportionate number of men were out with their snow blowers, moving snow with the front-end loaders on their Bobcats, or cruising the streets in their extended-cab pickups with the plow on the front. That's more men than I've seen on the streets since the last time a big wind took down a bunch of trees and they were all over it with their chain saws.

Snowmen popped up all over the place, and for once in a long time, they hadn't melted away by the next day.

I'm not such a snow-lover that I don't see the challenges, though. Monday morning I had to crash out of our driveway, where the plow had left its calling card during the night, and in the process remember my father's lesson on rocking the car. By Tuesday morning, we could park on Second St., but finding a place in the lot across the street was a challenge, even with a handicap parking permit, as the handicap spots were under twelve feet of snow. In the back alley, we were able to dig our delivery vehicles out of the snow, but deliveries from semis were just not going to happen.

Maybe it's all the practice I've gotten over the last eight months in just sitting and observing, or reading or working a crossword puzzle, but I liked the snowstorm, watching the back yard fill up with the white stuff, creating voluptuous sculptures on the roofs and eaves, coating the trees with sparkling costumes of white, softening all the hard edges of the scene around me. But I hope my neighbors who had to shovel out four cars two days in a row aren't reading this. They might not share my view of snow as art. 


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