“Sixteen Tons”

After a relatively balmy stretch, at least by mid-winter Minnesota standards, today’s snowfall created commuting problems. Three inches of snow for us is inconvenient but not insurmountable. I was quite puzzled when Bloomington Public Works dispatched a front-end loader and a dump truck to clear the end of the cul-de-sac. The chorus of “Sixteen Tons” popped into my head:

“You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt…”

It is probably true in more ways than one. Snow removal keeps my muscles in a regular state of short-term lactacid oxygen debt whether I use the snow thrower or a shovel. Gasoline for the snow thrower is an added expense. The people who feel “I owe my soul to the company store” endured slow travel and bone-headed drivers who think they have special dispensation from the laws of physics. Today’s snow was fine and granular, ideal for blowing and drifting. The forecast is for falling temperatures and gusty winds to replace moderate temperatures and snowfall later today. Many of the people who endured a tedious commute will need to find alternate parking because of the Snow Emergencies declared in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Even they will feel like they moved sixteen tons of something by bedtime this evening. I am sure that the “something” is not suitable for family friendly reading, but my Norwegian ancestors would probably start saying “fee-da” about now.

We are entering the “endurance” phase of winter. Groundhog’s Day (February 2nd) is exactly half-way between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox, but the middle of January is when our average highs and lows are at their minimums. It can, and does, get beastly cold in February. Lucy’s birthday was February 5th and there were about as many -20°F days as +40°F days in the time I was with her, but the longer days helped make enduring the chill bearable. This year’s Polar Vortex adventure was, with luck, our coldest period of the year. We have had the first seasonal  January thaw and could see another by this time next week. Our temperature swings will make people more prone to upper respiratory infections and asthma attacks, so some parents add pediatrics duty at home to their work load. We just need to endure and spring will be here eventually, and hopefully not mercilessly waylaid like last year.

I have a friend who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which has the appropriate abbreviation SAD. Most of us can grumble about the weather and can “gut it out”; people afflicted with SAD can become moody and depressed. Being stuck in a windowless cubicle farm with the requisite yellow-green hued fluorescent lighting exacerbates the symptoms. The sunnier and warmer weather last weekend was a welcome break. Today’s snow, cloud cover, and wind chill not so much. Every day burdens become sixteen tons heavier with SAD. It pays for us to be nice to everyone, for we do not know who is battling a disorder.

Two quick lasts of arctic air might be on tap for this week, with snow and seasonal temperatures in between. Next week’s forecast hints at seasonal temperatures. There will be a couple of days of hot chocolate for me and ethanol-free gasoline for the snow thrower. Give your special someone a meaningful hug and feel your sixteen ton burden grow lighter. For my friends baking in Australia, I would be happy to send some of our -5°C weather your way in exchange for your +35°C weather. DHL still delivers Down Under, don’t they?

Summary
Article Name
Sixteen Tons
Description
Adversity can weigh upon a person much like sixteen tons of rock. Extending kindness can help lift that burden.
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