Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Damn You Laura Ingalls

Snow, snow, go away, come again some other day. Or never. Or divert your happy self permanently up to Canada where they have lots of room to put you.

Ok so today I actually don’t have any basis for snow complaints. The big, one-two punch of weather they predicted for the DC area yesterday never materialized. In fact, the day was warmer than it has been in months. Today, the high was 50 degrees and even the rain that was forecast stayed away. Meanwhile, other parts of the country have experienced the worst snow in decades, if ever. Ironically, it will be colder in Texas for the Super Bowl than it will be in the mid-Atlantic corridor.

Some people are taking solace in the fact that Punxatawney Phil, the portly groundhog, saw his shadow today – or didn’t see his shadow, I can never remember which is which – anyway, the verdict is that spring is supposed to be coming sooner. I don’t put any stock in fat Phil, but it is a good excuse to mention Bill Murray and the fine film he starred in, “Groundhog Day.” I do love me some Bill Murray.

Anyway, back to snow. After living in warm climates for more than a decade, I opted to move back to the DC area. No disrespect to Al Gore, but I swear it has gotten colder here, and there is way more snow and ice and hail and sludge and temperatures in the teens than I ever remember there being here when I lived here last. (even factoring in what my blood alcohol content would have been back in the day as compared to now) It does make one rethink such a decision about where to live.

For now, let’s just say I’m over it and I can’t wait for signs of spring – any signs! – that we can hang our hats on. C’mon Phil.

I will say that when you live somewhere that has an actual fall and winter, it does make you appreciate spring and summer more. You want to get out and take advantage of those beautiful, sultry summer days because in the back of your little primordial mind, your body remembers when it was shivering and hunkered down and shoveling a path in the backyard so that your dogs could do their business. When you live in the desert, at some point you start to take those perpetual sunny days for granted.

When those first signs of spring appear, they come with all the trumpets and glory of new beginnings, and hope and the promise of a better, warmer future. One spindly little crocus plant nestled amid the mud never looked so good.

And I’ll suck as much joy as I can out of a warm, sunny fall, knowing that soon enough I’ll be back in my galoshes and wishing that giant parkas didn’t make me look so much like Bill Macy in Fargo.

I suppose if I were a frontier woman, I’d be using that time to can, pickle and preserve things, stocking my larder in anticipation of harsh days ahead. This I know is a direct result of reading too many of the Little House on the Prairie books when I was a kid. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s descriptions of the bleak conditions her family experienced probably cemented unconscious fears of homesteading, the Midwest, and wheat shortages.

On a road trip once from New Jersey to Oregon, a friend and I stopped in South Dakota to see a prairie sod home, or at least a re-creation of one. It reminded me of a little Hobbit home, tucked up under a ridge and pretty much carved out of the dirt and covered with grass. Inside would have been dark and bitter cold in the freezing ass winters there, but I suppose cozy in its own way. Families stuck it out and made a life for themselves there. I can’t help but think about the women in particular, and the hardships they must have endured. Do you think you would have liked the pioneer life, or have been any good at the homesteading way of life?

Suddenly I’m feeling like maybe I shouldn’t complain so much about a few inches of snow. Damn you Laura Ingalls!


  1. Lol. I love Laura and the Little House series. A fond childhood memory. I vividly recall a chapter where, after butchering a hog, Charles makes the girls a pig bladder balloon. They were just thrilled.

    How much our lives have changed in just a few generations, ay? There must have been a great sense of reward and accomplishment in merely surviving, something we've lost along the way.

    Nice post :-)

  2. ewww I do remember the pig bladder balloon in the story - GROSS. we have changed - how long do you think we would have lasted on the prairie? I predict I would have lasted 5 minutes before being eaten by a buffalo, falling into a lake or just giving up.

  3. I think I would have done alright, but I'm from West Virginia. Your self-assessment is probably accurate, lol.

  4. Yeah, they don't teach us that sort of thing in New Jersey, believe it or not.