The last couple of years that we lived in Fort Wayne we experienced two absolutely miserable winters.
The winter of 2013-2014 was the winter that the snow never stopped coming. I didn’t go to school for a full week for the first six weeks of the semester. In fact, we got nearly one full extra week of Christmas break because the snow started falling right before the break was supposed to end and the storm didn’t stop for days. By the end of that winter, everyone was ready to head south for spring break, most Midwesterners fleeing their homes for warmer weather and outdoor play that didn’t require a hat and gloves.
The next winter wasn’t much better, only this time we experienced a bitter cold that never seemed to go away. When we headed “south” to Kentucky at the end of March for a family spring break at Mammoth Cave, we still experienced freezing temperatures every night, our camper’s water hose sealing itself to the outdoor spigot during our first night in the campground.
Was it any wonder that two Midwesterners were willing to leave everything behind for a fresh start in the South where we wouldn’t experience such temperatures all winter long?
Ok, maybe it was a little rash for us to start discussing moving south after two miserable winters in a town that I didn’t want to stay in anyway, but there was something real to our burning desire to risk beastly hot summers if it meant that we could escape the bone-chilling winter cold that we had suffered for most of our lives.
So we went south. We enjoyed five years of camping for Thanksgiving. We barbecued and wore shorts on Christmas day. We went camping in the relatively cold Texas desert for three Christmas breaks. We even occasionally swam in our backyard pool during the winter months, even more so in the six months before we moved when we were finally able to take advantage of our new pool heater and our hot tub.
And when Texas experienced the deep freeze of 2021 that shut down the entire state for days on end, we defended our friends and neighbors and all of our complaints about power outages that eventually caused nearly one thousand deaths and millions of dollars in property damage.
In fact, during the coldest days of that week in February 2021, I admitted that I had been wrong to ever desire a return to the Midwest. The cold was miserable. I hated walking on ice, and I couldn’t imagine willingly returning to a place where I would experience that kind of climate for months on end.
We knew that a return to Indiana meant a cold winter. We knew that a return to Indianapolis meant we were right in that weird weather spot where we could experience fairly mild days mixed with bitter cold and that we were more often than not going to experience ice days over being buried in blizzards. We accepted reality.
And then we waited.
We waiting through the whole month of December with unseasonably warm temperatures and still, no snow. In January we got some dusting snow, but nothing that really stuck. Then last week there was finally enough for our kids to play in when they got home from school for the weekend. Then my sister messaged me and asked me if we were ready for a storm, acting as if we had never dealt with a snowstorm before. Then we watched the forecast change and adjust to show us squarely in the middle of a winter storm that promised a thick blanket of snow.
I was more excited than I wanted to admit.
I sat in the strange calm before the storm. The weather was gorgeous earlier in the week. The day before the storm started it was 50 degrees, too warm for my winter coat. Then, while I stayed home for the day in preparation for potential ice, my kids sat at school waiting for their own announcement of school cancelation. My husband kept saying that this was going to turn into nothing, and it seemed like a real possibility. All we saw in central Indiana was hours upon hours of steady cold rain.
But the next morning we woke up to a blanket of snow that didn’t stop falling for the rest of the day. I watched our kids play in the snow and our dogs run and kick up the powdery dust of dry snow that blew into drifts over a foot deep. I bundled up to brave the combination of deep snow and ice underneath so that I could walk both dogs.
And I once again remembered the beauty of thick snow covering all of the ugly of winter.
Do I love the cold that goes on for months and months? No, but I don’t love sweltering heat that does the same. Every place I’ve ever lived has trade-offs and I’ve learned to accept them as a reality of the choices that I make.
But right now I’m going to revel in the beauty of a winter wonderland. I’m going to treasure the memory of my kids playing together outside yesterday as the snow blew around them. I’m going to continue to giggle over my son’s concern about the twilight glow of lights reflecting off of the white surface long after the sun has gone down. I’m going to enjoy the sight of sunshine reflecting off of the snow after the clouds have cleared.
Because there really is nothing like a post-blizzard landscape, no matter what Southerners say.