February in Nebraska

I was chatting with a couple of youngsters Tuesday night who were excited about the prospect of having a snow day away from school.

What were their plans for the day, if school was called off?

Well, playing outside in the snow, of course.

It’s so funny how as kids we saw, and as kids they see the white stuff from a completely different point of view.

Then we became adults living in Nebraska and learned to adequately hate dealing with winter right about the middle of February.

And here we are, in the hating stage.

I’m so sick of it all, you’d think I’m not even a Nebraska native with a treasure trove of snowy memories.

For example – go back decades to the weekend my Aunt Sue was supposed to get married. Several feet of snow fell and no one was moving. The wedding was postponed for a substantial amount of time. And the day the nuptials actually took place, I remember the drifts on both sides of the road were higher than our vehicle.

And there was the giant storm of 1976 that blasted York County and much of the area — people were left without power for more than a month.

I remember being able to sled off the top of our house — literally. We pulled our toboggans to the top of the biggest hill (being our residence) and slid down. It wasn’t until Mom heard our footsteps over the kitchen that we were forced to stop.

There was a winter storm when I was about eight, when my parents had to use old fashioned know-how to just get to the barn to milk the cows. That’s one bad thing about being dairy farmers — it doesn’t matter how much it snows. The cows still have to be milked and the change in barometric pressure also makes them give birth. So, taking an idea from the “Little House on the Prairie” books, the folks tied themselves together with twine (so they wouldn’t lose each other) and followed the fence line through the swirling snow to get to the barn.

I remember the day my brothers were out hunting, deep into our pasture, when a storm moved in and they literally couldn’t find their way back. On foot, they trudged along blindly through the snow — and Terry had to keep Steve moving. The youngest brother said he was tired and wanted to lie down, but the older brother knew it would be a disaster. It wasn’t until they heard my frantic father yelling for them that they could find their way home.

And then there was the year our beloved dog, Bono, became lost in a bitterly cold blizzard. We had let him out to do his business, but he wandered about three blocks away and couldn’t find his way back. We dug our way out the door and on foot went yelling through the Elgin neighborhoods. I even walked past him once — he was covered in snow and sitting so deathly still, he looked more like a lawn ornament than a big furry dog. Once I realized it was him, I had to carry him home because he was too tired. Frostbite for me and a lesson for him.

Sure, there have been good winter moments too, I will admit.

My husband and his brothers worked on their snowmobiles each fall — and drove them all winter. My mother-in-law’s memory is tainted with catching them doing death-defying stunts, never stopping until someone lost a tooth or a piece of equipment fell off.

Sleds were the standard Christmas present — every shape, style and color. We went through so many, because we were sledding all the time.

I remember looking for the tracks from Santa’s reindeer each Christmas and thinking it was so wonderful.

But today, I’m just a crabby woman who is aching for spring and ready to plant those packets of wildflower seeds lying on my dining room table.

OK, the snow (these last couple of rounds) was kind of pretty while it was falling . . . if it had been Christmas time we would have called it romantic and Hallmark Channel-like.

But it’s that pivotal point where we all hate it and it’s time for it to be over.

It’s February in Nebraska.






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