Having taken three days for old poems (oh, don’t despair, poetry lovers, I have plenty in store to post as the days advance), let’s take a break for a journal entry. And the only thing really on my mind of late is the weather. It’s an icebox winter wonderland out there, and I’m pecking the keyboard with homemade fingerless gloves on my paws (which admittedly I might not need if I permitted the thermostats to raise the temperature much above 60). So with a hot-chocolated coffee in my mug, let’s consider our subarctic chill…
The big news around Iowa for the past couple of weeks is snow and cold. First, we didn’t quite dodge a major winter storm over Christmas. Other parts of the midwest (like Iowa just barely west of where I spent the holiday—at my brother’s in Oskaloosa—and Minnesota) got hit in a huge way: two feet of snow and huge winds to blow it all around = blizzard conditions.
My youngest brother, David, had to drive through a good part of it on Christmas Day, trying successfully to reach Kansas City, but he plowed a foot of snow from the access ramp to I-35 south and then skated marginally on huge sections of ice on the interstate. His observation, once he had arrived at his airport hotel, was that at least the ice sections were clearly marked by the car or cars in the ditch or median as the ice began. I guess it pays not to be the first to travel a road in bad weather.
Janet and I got to brave a little bit of badness heading home on the 26th, but the only really tough section was highway 92 east from Oskaloosa to Sigourney, which I took at about 45 to others’ frustration behind me (one passed and one eventually reached his turnoff). It had snowed about three or four inches in the night, and it was still falling pretty thickly as we left our hotel to drive home. However, once we had stopped for gas and convenience-store cappuccinos in Sigourney, things improved: Janet got the windshield wipers—her car—to actually clear the precipitation on the windshield instead of leaving us both trying with ill success to peer through ever-increasing smeary ice; and the snow let up considerably. The highway from there on was much clearer, and we sped up to basically 55, passing several others as timid as I had been initially until we got boxed in a train behind one such cautious driver on highway 1—all the way into Iowa City, even as the road conditions grew visibly better and better with every dozen miles. 218 around Iowa City was clear and dry, but 80 eastward was not so well cleared. We turned off onto 1 again to head for her parents’ house in Anamosa for the Norton-side family Christmas and got reacquainted with dicier surfaces for a while. Not far north of Solon, however, the road was again clear and dry, although we passed a ditched car—quite recent—who must have been surprised, driving south, by the worsened driving conditions from his or her perspective.
And so to our second Christmas (very nice indeed) and eventually on home. Then the cold smacked us down almost immediately and has stayed through this week (just barely started but not about to get a whole lot better and supposedly boding snow on Wednesday night).
Twenty-five years ago or thereabouts we endured many winters of real cold (actual temperatures holding at twenty below for a week at a time), but the last twenty have been really quite mild, and we have aged of course, so this cold snap has stored us indoors with only two outings (except Janet’s trips to and from work). I have continued to walk to play rehearsals (a second play for those who have been reading these personal updates; A Christmas Carol ended well in mid-November, and then I foolishly tried out for One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, acquiring the small role of Scanlon, and so I’ve been trudging to practice until the third weekend this month). But I have walked very well bundled under as much as five layers of garments, which I am sure my fellow castmates must enjoy watching me shed when I arrive and then reattire to depart once again into the dark and cold.
Our thermometer hasn’t shown us anything worse than about fifteen below at night, but the weather people keep screeching about the hazardous wind chills well into the negative thirties. So we stayed in, cleaning up the Christmas decorations, cleaning the house in general, cooking, eating, watching DVDs. And I got fatter than during any other Christmas season I can remember with no actual exercise except snow shoveling. Perhaps I need to actually make use of my Y membership…
But do I really want to join all the other new-years-resolvers who must be there in the gym? And can I brave the cold enough for the mile-and-a-half walk to and then from the YMCA?
Now I need to write a letter to my Aunt Alaire, including her long-delayed Christmas gift card, complete a lengthy list of chores—including scrubbing out our shower—, and then maybe even take some time to pretend I’m writing productively.