|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
It snowed. No big deal, right? This is Maine. It snows. On the other hand, it ruined the fun I was having snickering at Houston, TX and Baton Rouge, LA, who had snow before we did. It's a little smug to pick on places with warm weather getting snow before we do, and more than a little petty. I'd feel bad about it, but I really can't after the drive home I had tonight.
Usually, I handle these weather conditions by just driving really, really slowly and annoying everyone behind me in a truck or an SUV who wants to go a lot faster. If there is one thing I have learned driving in bad weather in a light weight sedan, it is that speed, or lack thereof, is critical. I go the speed that I know is safe. If it takes me an hour to get home so be it. My philosophy, although perfectly sound and intelligent, sometimes annoys people who think that a bigger, heavier car means that they can drive the standard speed limit and be just fine. So they pass me, and I often pass them down the road off the road. Or occasionally, in a ditch. I try very hard not to be a petty and smug when this happens. It usually doesn't work. I'm human, so sue me.
Tonight, however, everyone was driving slowly. The people in front of me were going slowly. The people behind me were going even slower than I was, and I never got out of 2nd gear. It was kind of a nice change of pace and I rather enjoyed it, or as much as I could while suffering from the kind of tension that glues your grip to the steering wheel and cramps up all your muscles. There was a kind of camaraderie we all had in adversity, crawling through the night in the snow and wind and darkness. No one behind me drove 2 feet from my rear bumper in annoyance and no one ended up off the road or in a ditch. As nerve-wracking drives though blizzards go, it wasn't too bad.
As a part of my job I spend a certain amount of time speaking on the phone with people all over the country. Weather is frequently a subject people bring up because I am in Maine and people in other places somehow believe that Maine exists in a constant state of deep unrelenting frozen snowfall. Even more than it actually does, which is fairly often. This year, I have observed a shift in these weather related conversations. This year, people want to talk about their own weather. People in Texas want to talk about the snowfall that caused their lives to come to a grinding halt. People in Louisiana want to tell me how they had the first snowfall in recorded weather history. People in the northwest want to tell me how they are suffering the worst cold weather anyone can remember. People in Washington State are not used to awakening to temperatures in the teens. People I speak with in Southern California are appalled because they are actually having some weather. San Diego doesn't have weather. San Diego just has day after day of blue skies, sunlight, and mild temperatures. For people in San Diego actually having weather is tantamount to the Apocalypse. How can it happen? How can the wind blow so hard and rain actually pour down? The recent nasty storm blew things down and took out the electrical grid. No one knew what to do. Traffic, always horrible, became impossible. There were no traffic lights, no street lights, no zillions of lights from the city making the night into day. The panic was to be expected; the part that really got me was how betrayed these people felt. How could nature do this to them? They aren't supposed to have weather. Weather is supposed to be reserved for those poor saps living in the Midwest and East. I had to chuckle.
There is no question that the weather has been doing some crazy things, and no question that people are confused and horrified. Populations can be rendered totally helpless when weather does something totally out of character for which they are in no way either practically or mentally prepared. In the world of tornadoes there is an old Native American legend about the twisters and they call the tornado that has the worst level of destruction, “Dead Man Walking”. This is because it is a huge tornado going up high into the sky that is so powerful that it actually splits to become multiple tornadoes branching out from the central twister. It looks for all the world like a man swinging his arms as he walks along. The tribes knew that it brought death and destruction. This all goes to prove what I have always known. Nature couldn't care less if anyone is prepared, horrified, or appalled. It does what it wants and it always wins. Always.