News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 1, 2012

LIZ CIANCONE: What to make of that mild winter

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — I’m old enough to have seen some interesting fluctuations in weather, but this year has taken the gold-plated trophy.

I kept waiting for winter. The sweaters had been dry-cleaned and were waiting for the onslaught of the first cold snap. I had not dug out the long underwear, but I knew where it was and could grab it within minutes of need. My boots were waterproofed and ready. I had mastered the art of adjusting the thermostat. All systems were “go”.

The only problem was that winter, as we think of it in West Central Indiana, never made the schedule.

March, rather than making its debut like the proverbial lion, came in more like a drowsy pussycat. In fact, I can cast my mind back only a few weeks to recall days and days of record-breaking temperature highs. During that 80-degree period, I actually made a note to myself to remember where I stashed the long underwear in case we get winter next year.

Was it only a year ago we had an ice storm for the record books? I remember I thought about skating across the lawn to the mailbox, but I gave it up after a couple of steps. I’m not Evel Knieval.

And, it wasn’t too many years ago that snow was almost too deep to shovel. Of course, that was way back when we lived in Northern Illinois and were schooled to expect nothing better.

I may have mentioned before the winter of my ninth Christmas when I got my first pair of ice skates. I wanted so much to give them a test run, but the snow was terribly deep.

However, Dad got out the snow shovel, walked down the hill to Blackberry Creek and shoveled off a 12 by 12 square from the ice below all that snow. I was thrilled to give my new skates their maiden run and have remembered ever since the effort it took Dad to leave a warm house for a cold walk.

I just don’t know what to make of this year. Maybe it’s just a cyclical weather pattern as the dubious insist, or maybe there really is something to global warming.

I just hope our abnormally warm winter won’t translate to an abnormally hot summer. I don’t do hot.

Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send e-mail to