We are all tuned to our phones, our iPads, our TVs–maybe even our radios–in advance of the Big Storm headed our way. Snow from Canada, rain from the south, all of it colliding right above our martyred Minnesota. The meteorologist says, “There’s a big swirl up there…” And we shiver. WIth horror. And–let’s not deny it–with delicious anticipation of being snowed in. In April! It’s happened before but not since 1983, thirty years ago, on April 14, one day before the tax deadline, which had to be extended. Big storms even cow the IRS.
“It was heaven, that storm,” says my friend, Julia.
Let’s state the obvious: it has been a lousy April, following a long winter. Snow, sleet, ice, banged up cars, broken bones, a freezing Twins opener (but they still won the series over Detroit). Still, we remind ourselves, God knows we need the moisture, after a drought that has been decidedly Un-Minnesotan. After all, we are the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Or even more, we will hasten to remind you; they haven’t all been counted. Water is our thing. When Arizona and California and all those other states that forge ahead and build, water be damned, run out, we know they’ll be knocking on our door.
But back to the storm. We’re all dying to see the first crocus, a daffodil, tulips, rhubarb, all the things that signal spring in our Little Shangri-La (thank you, Ron Edwards, for coining that moniker). And yet, and yet….there is something about a storm, even in April, that makes our hearts beat a little faster. It must stem from our ancestors, breaking ground in this frigid earth and hoping like hell the crops would come. They got snowed in for real, which meant in the case of my parents and grandparents, being forced to sit around oil barrel stoves, eat popcorn, play cards and drink hot coffee. No school. No work outside. No SUVs to power down the roads, no snowmobiles, no big plows.
Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? A force of Nature that makes us step back and huddle together, hopefully under shelter and not out in the elements (another story altogether and a horrible one).
You can always tell when a storm is approaching Minnesota, because the grocery stores are packed. It’s not that most of us lack food at home, it’s just that there are certain things we wouldn’t want to run out of: popcorn, for example, chocolate chips, milk for hot chocolate, soup, crackers. It’s a primitive instinct, but we stock for the cave. God knows when spring will come in this place where forecasters are predicting ice pellets (yes, pellets, like what BB guns shoot), followed by snow.
We are special here, and don’t you forget it.
Who else, except maybe residents of Antarctica, Siberia or parts of Alaska gets kicked around by the weather the way we do? We suffer, but we are tough. We whine, but we also make jokes. “Cold enough for ya?” we ask one another.
By May this storm will be a notch on our belts, yet another proof that we are a chosen people, specially designed by whatever we consider to be our higher (or lower) power to bend our bodies to the wind, allow our eyelashes to freeze our cheeks, to endure and endure.
And by June, amnesia will have settled on us like an invisible veil. We will be off and running to pack in as many activities as we can in our (count them) 12 precious weeks of summer. During those sacred months, we do not even utter the word “winter” for fear of a sudden reappearance. We forget about it until late fall, when inexplicably it starts to get cold again.
But in the meantime, today, as the sky darkens, we check the ongoing forecasts. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get a snow day. Maybe Metro Transit will pull the buses. Maybe we’ll have a day off–after which we will delight and terrify each other with our Big Storm stories.
All I can say is after all this buildup, it damn well better come. There is nothing worse than battening down the hatches for a major storm that decides to bypass us. Blizzard Interrumpus is no more fun than…well you know. I raise my coffee cup to our heroic image of ourselves as Minnesotans. May we suffer a little and then have spring.