Sunday, February 11, 2024

Weathering the Storms

Living in the Midwest, we are familiar with the ever changing, diverse, and oftentimes, extreme weather. I don’t need to tell you how crazy Mother Nature’s mood swings can be. We’ve all experienced them—sometimes two or three within a twenty-four hour period!

Living in a rural community, not only do we experience these weather events on a regular basis, but we talk about them—at lot! In fact, chatting about the weather in these parts isn’t just making small talk, it’s talking about something important to our daily lives. Whether we are working, exercising, or playing outdoors, being out and about taking care of business, or trying to figure out if the roads are passable, the weather is important. It’s also important to know what the weather is supposed to do. We have forecasts available at the tap of a phone screen. While weather apps are handy, they are constantly updating as the weather and conditions change, giving us more reason to constantly check our phones!

Growing up on a grain and livestock farm, and weathering the blizzards of the late seventies, I know that even though winter weather can be interesting and beautiful, it can also be dangerous. It can make it much harder to do the most basic of chores—watering and feeding livestock. With current technology we can look ahead and plan ahead, but it’s still no fun working outdoors under severe weather conditions. When heavy snow and strong wind hits, even the best laid plans can go awry.

With my current work as a conservationist, I try to plan field work for decent weather, but that’s not always possible. Hot and humid weather is not ideal, and neither is extremely cold, wet, and windy weather. During the winter, frozen fields without much snow cover can make field work go faster, allowing for driving across the fields to save much time. Last year, I had the misfortune to get stuck not once, but twice, when doing field work. That is more than all my previous 29 years at the Stark County SWCD combined. There was also a very near miss on a dirt road that started off innocent enough, but ended with me having very sweaty clenched palms around the steering wheel and my heart racing. Since we rarely have sunny and 75 degree days, that means we must work outdoors in less than perfect weather much of the time.

Fortunately, I try to see the beauty in my surroundings every day. So while it’s tempting to stay tucked away inside as much as possible in bad weather, I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to catch winter weather scenery photos. I’m out with my camera on foggy, misty, frosty, snowy, and icy days, photographing some of nature’s simplest but finest beauty—various forms of precipitation on our local native trees, plants, and landscapes. Sometimes weathering the storm can be a beautiful thing, as long as you’re prepared for the worst.

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