News and Tribune

February 14, 2014

NASH: We will survive

By MATTHEW NASH
Local columnist

— As of today we are halfway through the shortest month of the year. The frigid temperatures that we have experienced along with the snow and ice events have made it seem a little longer than usual. Closings and delays have wreaked havoc on the local schools’ calendar and they are going to start getting creative if there will be any summer vacation at all this year.

On Feb. 2, the groundhog revealed what many of us already knew, there would be six more weeks of winter.  So far we haven’t been disappointed. As bad as the weather has been this year, I am surprised that the groundhog came out of his hole at all.

Over the years I have counted on another rodent for my weather predictions, but this year it hasn’t worked out. In the past I have used the bushiness of the squirrels’ tails that live around my yard to determine the severity of the winter. This year it did not signal a winter that would be this cold or last this long. This year I have been overwhelmed by squirrels that must not have stored enough for the long winter. They have been making their meals on bird feeders that I have.

While we have had quite a significant winter compared to the ones in recent history it hasn’t been too tough on me. Living a relatively shut-in life with my month-old twins, we haven’t needed to go too many places.  Making it back and forth to work and to the grocery store occasionally have been relatively easy.

Working at a retail establishment we have benefited in the poor weather with bread and milk sales. We have also been sold out of rock salt for several weeks. This year we didn’t receive as big of an initial distribution since we have been accumulating more and more after years of not selling our allotment. With the first ice event occurring the first weekend of December and a few more since it has caused us to more than double sales the past few years combined.

I have watched in amazement as the southern states have been attempting to cope with the foul weather.  It is interesting to see a major metropolitan area like Atlanta being brought to its knees by just a couple of inches of snow. Without the need to remove snow an ice but once every few years it isn’t fiscally responsible to stockpile salt like we would. It also doesn’t make sense to have very many snow plows on hand.  

Traveling on snow and ice covered roads can be tricky at times, but if you take your time and use good judgment you should be all right. Many times accidents occur when cars are following too close and don’t leave extra space to stop. If you go to bed and you know you may need some extra time to get to work the next morning try setting your alarm 30 minutes earlier than you are use to. Also allow enough time to clear your windows of snow or ice.

We have had difficulties in the past in dealing with snow but for the most part I think local governments have handled it fairly well this year. I have heard grumbling from some that “their” streets weren’t treated in a reasonable amount of time. Clearing snow and ice from roads is a hard and thankless job that can take its toll on local government coffers. Deciding when to and what streets should be treated could mean the difference in having any product left should we have many more snow falls.

The snow and ice also wreaks havoc on the road in other ways.  Every year the end of winter inevitably brings the beginning of pot hole season. In the past I have seen some potholes that would swallow small cars or at least damage a few tires. So far this year I have seen a few but not to many severe ones yet. The city of New Albany announced this week that a program to patch them has begun until better weather arrives and a more permanent solution can begin.   

I look forward to the spring thaw but am worried about what might happen this summer. It seems that every time we have a very wet or cold winter it is always followed by a hot and dry summer. I much prefer a cold winter to a very hot summer because it is easier to stay warm than it is to cool off.

The first day of spring won’t come soon enough for most people around these parts. Many people have cabin fever from all of the time they have been cooped up inside with all of this bad weather this winter. In a few short weeks the flowers will start to sprout and it won’t be long until the leaves will begin to bud. It won’t be too long until it will be time to start complaining about having to mow the grass.

— Matthew Nash can be reached at dmatthewnash@gmail.com.