I was born in Saginaw, Michigan during a frigid, violent blizzard that swept across the Great Lakes Bay Region. I was taken home wrapped up like a caterpillar in a cocoon for protection against the elements.
With windchill, it was well below zero degrees Fahrenheit. After getting home, I’m sure my parents enjoyed a warm mug of hot chocolate as they admired the icy blizzard from the warmth of their home in the city of Saginaw.
Growing up, those were the Januarys I remembered. I can’t recall a single year without snow in this month, the first full month of winter.
Last month, we were ambushed by a massive snowstorm many refer to as the “Siberian Express.” It worked its way from Asia and sent us an ice welcome.
Shortly before Christmas, my family’s only refrigerator and freezer in the house broke down, and we couldn’t get someone to come down and repair it before the new year. Thanks to the Siberian Express, our garage became our refrigerator and the backyard porch our freezer.
But Mother Nature is providing no more. The Siberian Express said, “all aboard!” and departed from Michigan, and we are left with nothing more than its final breath as we welcome the new year and embrace winter.
But what is there to embrace? This past week, I nearly forgot that the sky’s natural color was blue and not a grim and gloomy gray.
It’s cold out, sure, but not cold enough for snow to fall from the sky in its peaceful wintery fashion.
Instead, we get depressing drizzles of rain. The grass is hard and yellow, the sky is dark and gray, the wind is cold and biting, and the rain stabs like a knife. What kind of January is this? What kind of winter is this?
It seems the weather has become more unpredictable, untimely, unseasonal, and more intense in nature.
People can quibble over the cause of this kind of weather, but I know but one thing: this isn’t the January I remember.
I can recall staying up late watching the snow fall on our tree lights outside as I waited in anticipation for the superintendent to call of school.
We would flush ice cubes down the toilet. We would do a snow dance. We would cheer with giddiness as we went onto our school district’s website to see in big, bold, red letters: “Saginaw Township Community Schools will be closed tomorrow due to inclement weather.
What sheer joy we children experienced upon hearing such news.
But what do kids have now? What will their childhood winters be remembered by? Rain? Sure, it’s January, but it doesn’t seem like that means much to Mother Nature anymore. I’ve even seen some trees with leaves still clinging to their branches for dear life. Meanwhile, Nebraska was recently struck by a snowstorm Nebraskans are certainly not accustomed to.
Sure, this may just be an off year. After all, we did have a white Christmas. These things do happen, and the answer isn’t always that the world is ending, but even with that aside, this weather is starting to affect our mental health.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a very real thing, and the dark mornings that seem to drag on interminably before finally surrender to a gray afternoon are, in a word, gloomy.
Then there’s the invasion of darkness at 5:00 in the evening, which results in disrupted sleep patterns and higher levels of depression among the American population.
While I don’t suffer from SAD, I do sense a morose mood in the atmosphere. If it’s going to be cold, there might as well be snow. That is why someone needs to knock on Mother Nature’s door and convince her to welcome some of that fluffy white stuff into our lives.
It’s January 2023. Winter is just beginning. Let us hope that Father Winter makes his presence known in the coming days and weeks.
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