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Wordless Wednesday: Spring snow

The Vernal Equinox, the first day of spring, fell on March 20 this year.

The infernal snowpocalypse, about four inches of [bleep]ing snow, fell on March 24.

And because we are forced to enjoy Ohio weather patterns (the midwestern states version of the Bermuda Triangle) the snow today has mutated into shoe sucking mud.

Which around these parts is just as much the first signs of spring as is the robins returning to our backyards.

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Wordless Wednesday: Snow Camouflage

When the Favorite Kid was a toddler, I’d dress him in bright primary colors when we’d visit amusement parks and such. My New Mom Theory was based on the simple idea that the kid would be easy to spot if he toddled too far from my watchful eye. And should a helium balloon happen its way to us, he’d also get the awesomeness of his very own balloon tied to his wrist. Again, the thought was that a bobbing object in one’s peripheral vision is harder to lose in a crowd. 

What? Is that weird or something? Nudging towards the dark precipice of paranoia perhaps? Well, I stand by this choice. I do.  Because I never lost the kid even once. Ok, there was that one time, but he was fourteen and we were at the mall. And I get the feeling he was trying to ditch me anyway, but that might just be the paranoia talking.

I was reminded of this after the recent snowfall here in Ohio.  The polar bear pup was just blending into the snowy backdrop a little too much for our photo shoot outside. The monochrome photos my camera was spitting out were simply, well, bland.

Red bow to the rescue! Kind of.  I didn’t know it, but apparently the thing held some sort of superpower that makes puppies hyperactive.  As soon as I connected the velcro straps, she was BAM! out of the starting gate.  Running around with reckless abandon like a puppy in her first big snow.

It’s snow fun surviving a blizzard

It’s like taking photos of a polar bear on an iceberg. 

It’s snow fun surviving a blizzard 

“There was little warning that it would be so bad — that an elderly woman would burn her furniture to keep warm, that some species of birds would be nearly killed off in Ohio.  

The temperature was in the 40s the day before, and then, just like that, vehicles were stranded in snowdrifts 15 feet deep. Diesel fuel froze, so trucks couldn’t move even on clear roads. An Ohio National Guard general started out for work in the morning and he couldn’t get home for seven days.” (excerpt from Blizzard of 1978, The Columbus Dispatch)
 

We all seem to have that someone in our family – parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle – from that generation who lived through the Great Depression. Who comes to mind for you?  You don’t even need to hear their childhood stories to know this is true, right? They have the tell-tale habits of a survivor.  Behaviors like food squirreling and insisting on using produce days past its prime when we would just toss those limp carrots away.  They repair even the simplest of items to make it last as long as possible. Not everything goes out of style in their opinion.  This leisure suit is still perfectly fine, thank you very much, Grandpa says as he adjusts his ultra-wide necktie before Sunday Mass. Oh, did you know a plaid shirt is ok with pin-striped pants if both are in the green family? True story, but in hindsight that might have just been personal fashion sense, not a survival behavior.  My father-in-law could not be swayed otherwise, which is fine. It was just another one of the things that made him so charming, the sweet guy.

Even experiencing something as short-lived as horrendous weather can bring out subtle survivor skills in us. Nearly 34 years after Ohio’s Blizzard of  ’78, I still can’t scan a kitchen cupboard without estimating how many days of food we have in there. In a pinch those spaghetti noodles could be matched with the can of stewed tomatoes.  Things like that float through my head like wisps of smoke. I can’t not do it. We may not eat in the fancy style we’ve become accustomed to, I think, but it beats melting snow for sustenance.

The walk to the school bus was about a 9.5 on the Suck Scale.

If you read October’s ghost story post Ghosts in the Walls, this image on the left may ring a bell. The red arrow points to the foundation of the remains of my childhood home. The yellow arrow is the end of the gravel lane that meets the nearest road, a quarter mile away.

The Blizzard of ’78 was a unique weather phenomena for Ohio, holding the record for the most powerful winter storm in the history of our fine Midwestern state.

“About two or three times per winter, a low-pressure system from Mexico heads north, and at the same time, an Alberta clipper from Canada heads south. Virtually every time that happens, they miss each other. “But during the Blizzard of ’78, the storms kind of collided and they intensified each other into one massive storm,” said Jeffrey Rogers, a geography professor at Ohio State University.  “We don’t know what the odds are, but it must be extremely low,” Rogers said. “It certainly is an event that hasn’t happened since then.””  (excerpt from Blizzard of 1978, The Columbus Dispatch)
 

So yeah, it was weird and it was sudden. Considering the super low temps and snowdrifts measuring twice the height of cars, we had us some drama dropped into our cozy laps. We, all of Ohio, found ourselves caught totally unprepared of what we were to awake to that January morning. And the story of my family is that we were trapped far from our country road in a small farming community. Our gravel lane to freedom held possession of the highest of the snow drifts and was impassable by car or foot. So after a few days of canned soup, we packed in winter gear to trek across the frozen cornfield to meet a family friend. The country road finally snowplowed, Richard was able to meet us at the end of the lane to drive us to the IGA in town.

Pretty harsh stuff, right? Oh, there’s more y’all. My sister and I were teenagers. My brother was elementary school age. And my mom?  Mom was ready to throttle the lot of us.  Why can’t we have the Red Cross do a helicopter food drop instead, I whined as we broke new trail going back to the farmhouse. We’re PEOPLE, not beasts of burden. You know, we could all DIE out here in this field and NOBODY would find our bodies for mo. . . WAAAAH!  I trip over a frozen furrow, performing a gymnastic face plant at the same time as tossing my personal load of hard earned groceries into the snow. Mom looks back and sighs in that way she did back then and, without breaking her stride, keeps on going. And my sister was pretty much yin to my yang at this point. Any other time at each other’s throats, we now shared a common bond in that snow-covered field and so joined our forces together to create a beautiful harmony of self-centered teenage discontent and promises of weekly therapy sessions just to overcome this inconceivable hardship of our young lives.

A massive run-on sentence, that last one. But an awesome one, right?

When we all look back on difficult times as these, let’s give a special remembrance to mothers. Maybe even a special award to moms of teenage girls. Something like “Thanks for not killing us, Mom, even though you probably could have done it and gotten away with it for a few weeks at least until spring thaw.”  I don’t know. Would that even fit on a trophy?

So we got us some snow this week

Go fig. Turns out the local weather forecast was pretty spot on and we were hit with more snow on one short day than we saw all last winter. Those hours of heavy snowfall and heavy winds had all of us children of the Great Blizzard generation going on about our memories of that one historical winter storm.

And yet, it still surprises me a little to see people who live within a mile of the local Kroger go into OMG mode to hit the shelves like they’ve got an underground bunker to restock.  Hey, you know what, neighbors? I think to myself.  This ain’t nuthin’.  You wanna snowstorm? I’ll tell you about a storm. And anyway, you could walk here from your house if it came down to it.  But that’s just survivor talk. I don’t want to walk it either. But you know, I could. hahahahasnort. Just messing with y’all. We’ll be right here eating egg noodles with Pace Picante before that happens.

But in between these hard moments of survival, it’s a fine distraction to open the backdoor and let the dogs out to do their thing in the white wonder of it all.  Euka has now finally discovered that magic experience that is playing in deep snow.  So sit back, grab a warm beverage and scroll down to enjoy the innocence of dogs playing in the wintry weather. 

Because I should go now. I need to call my mom.

Euka is mastering the Look of Innocence.  She’s getting pretty good at it, too.
 What’s in your mouth now, Euka? I will ask.  Muthin’, she mumbles back.

Muthin in that mouth, you say?
 
Our houseguest for the week, COC Kel.
 
Kel and Micron set aside their mission to ignore each other for a
hearty game of Gimme Back My Friggin’ Stick.
Micron communes with the snow. He sort of made a snow angel, but
like a high pitched whistle, you’d have to be a dog to get it.
Euka keeps an assured clear distance from the big dogs to avoid
getting steamrollered. But, she insists, she is the Chaser.
She wants you to know that.
(Check out Raising a Super Dog’s FaceBook page for even more snow photos at Euka’s Snow Album.)
 
Are you a Blizzard of ’78 survivor too?   Share your harrowing tales of bravery in the face of snowdoom in the comments.
 
 

Wordless Wednesday: Iditarod dogs

It’s Iditarod time. folk!  Iditarod 2012 starts this weekend on March 3.  Check out Iditarod.com for more info on this year’s mushers and to keep track over the next few harrowing days as these teams race for Nome.

Photo above is from Iditarod 2005. The kid is a junior dog handler, helping to bring Rick Swenson’s dog team to the start line. Derek is the guy in pink and black near the front.  See him?  Yeah, he also has a white ballcap on.

Anyone who wonders if these dogs really want to run this race, just check out the wheel dog, second up from the sled.  On two hind legs and rarin’ to go.  These dogs love to pull.  Which is also why it takes a human team to handle the lot of them at the start line.

Derek with legendary musher Charlie Boulding

The kid took captured this serene Alaskan landscape. I sent him off during a hike at Thunderbird. Between the altitude and my general out-of-shapeness, compounded by a chronic case of the clumsies, I didn’t dare venture off the trail.  Instead, I handed the camera over to the boy scout and let him have at it.  The kid has an artist’s eye, indeed.

Snow Day Redux

It’s a beautiful spring-like day this afternoon. Temps in the upper 50’s, blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Rather uplifting and much needed. I don’t know if it’s really fair to say this winter has been worse than any of recent, but there were days the gray skies seemed to be endless.
Not completely a dark abyss over the past few months, however. During the times we had snow, it was absolutely gorgeous. When we brought the little lord Yaxley home from CCI, it was a typical chilly day. Taking first day photos outside gave us bleak landscape backgrounds of brown and gray. So I was pleased to hear we would get another snowfall yet in February. 
Yaxley is a natural California blonde; from the land of sea and sky. California may have beaches, warm climates and green grass, but out here in the midwest (OHIO, the Heart of America!) we can offer snow and ice and thunderstorms and mud and tornados. And can even dish this all up on the same day. ‘Tis true. Don’t like the weather? Just give it a few hours, it’ll change. Not the Ohio state motto. But it could be.
So we got some snow for Yaxley. Nine weeks old for his first romp in the frosty stuff. And like any red blooded CCI pup, he loved it. No hesitation, no what the heck is this stuff, just a full throttle whee session.
Now that we can check this photo op off the list, I’m ready for springtime. Now would be nice, doncha think?

For another puppy in the snow experience, Micron’s first snow day is at this link: Snow Day
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