News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 7, 2014

RONN MOTT: Is Mother Nature color-blind?

Ronn Mott
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — It would appear Mother Nature does not like the grays and browns of the winter season. The snow and ice barely gets off the ground by melting and, whop, we have another snow.

The snow covers the browns, blacks and grays that lay about this time of year when snow is not coloring them. Maybe it is because white goes with everything, but we rarely get to see it with reds and blues and yellows and oranges of spring flowers — only if Mother Nature is very late. Of course, if she is late she vanquishes the beautiful flowers of spring and you’re left again with just snow covering everything. It’s almost like the “mini ice age” of the 16th through 19th centuries. Longer winters, colder winters and harsh temperatures, almost without exception, were featured in the famous Currier & Ives’ drawings and paintings taken from this era.  

So my question is this: El Niño, polar winds, dimming of the sun, a longer course taken by Earth around the sun … are these things going to make winters more like our great-grandmothers’ winters?

My grandmother did not talk to me much about the past, but one time she did tell me when she was a girl and was walking to school, the snow she was walking on was higher than the fences.  Most fences of the day were three- to five-feet high and that snow in the 19th century that fell in November would not leave until sometime in May. It was a cold and constant winter.

We have had so much baloney spread about regarding the Earth heating up we have forgotten the fact that it could very well have devastatingly cold winters and, with hot summers, still gain that margin of heat for a given year.  

So I suspect preparation for a very cold winter is a good idea … extra food you can store without refrigeration, making sure water pipes are wrapped and able to be kept warm, and some kind of extra heating devices as a back-up.

Like Mother Nature, I think the snow does paint the entire area with a certain beauty. As in days of yore, however, we no longer have access to sleighs and horses trained to harness to take us about. In spite of America’s love for the automobile and, certainly around here, the pick-up truck, none of these devices are really the best thing to have in snow and ice. But there are things you can do to make it better.

Many of us have toyed with the idea of going south where the winters are not as hazardous. But, if you saw the tangled mess of cars and trucks in and around Atlanta last week, you would have to be smarter than the officials of state, city and county governments to drive through all of that securely.  

Consequently, the message here is simple. Like the Boy Scouts, be prepared, or get out early and stay away until summer. I’m afraid, for me, I’m going to be prepared, try to make it through, and not gripe about it too loudly.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday and in print and online on Saturday.