Can there be too much snow?

It’s been a real “old-fashioned” winter here in Iowa this year (although I’m not sure what the term means–is that, like, pre-global-warming?). 50 some inches with several very serious ice storms thrown in for good measure in mid-december. Temperatures lately have been hovering between 10 below and 10 above. This last snow storm in particular was far too cold for salt on the roads to do anything. We’ve been driving on solid ice rather than road surface. My drive to Mt. Vernon on a nice, scenic rural route has been like Siberian permafrost, drifting shut every night with snow piles higher than my little mazda on both sides of the road. The driving in particular I think is wearing Iowans down.

That said, I’ve really been loving it. It is absolutely beautiful and my drive home at sunset the other night with wispy sundogs flaring through the frozen atmosphere was absolutely transcendental, the fields of drifting snow in the blue twilight like the sea rolling in toward the road. We’ve been out hiking many times in the bitterly cold and really there’s nothing like it. Sounds take on a different texture; the crystalline world reflecting every possible fragment of light. For me, winter is great as long as it stays winter. Once it starts pretending to be spring but really only offering days of damp bone-chilling grayness (I find those damp days in the low 30s much more unbearable than the dry subzero days), then my spirit begins to sag a bit. But that’s march; here in the frozen tundra of February I’m happy. And even in the deepest midwinter, I found myself walking across campus yesterday morning, brilliant sunshine and a balmy 5 below and there they were: the cardinals have started their spring songs and several were belting them out at full volume. Quite surreal and wonderful.

My only complaint then with all this serious weather is I have nowhere left to throw any snow. One more serious snow and I just may lose my back. Here’s a sample:

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