Kadner: Why winter is a rotten, evil thing
By Phil Kadner email@example.com January 6, 2014 5:06PM
Windy day had many residents like Fred Benoit, of Merrionette Park, clearing snow drifts through out the day, Monday, January 6th, 2013, in Merrionette Park| Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 8, 2014 6:15AM
There I was digging my way through three feet of snow turned to ice at the edge of my driveway, wondering how people knew when the wind chill hit minus 40 before there were weather reporters.
“Make sure to keep your nose covered because frostbite can set in within 10 minutes of exposure to the elements,” the TV weatherman had said.
A scarf is covering my mouth and nose. Within 60 seconds, my breath and leaking nose make it wet. Ten seconds later, that stuff is starting to turn into a thin crust of ice.
My eyeglasses have fogged over, so I am now chopping through the ice on my driveway nearly blind, trying to breath through an ice-encrusted scarf.
Arthur Sicard (1876-1946) is the man generally credited with inventing the snowblower, which eventually became the snow thrower.
I looked that up because at one point over the weekend, I figured the guy probably saved my life. Without my snow thrower, trying to dig through the drifts that covered my driveway would have probably caused a heart attack.
Those were the drifts caused by Mother Nature, whose 30 mph wind gusts kept blowing back the snow I had tossed into the air using Sicard’s invention back in my face.
Battling nature with a motorized device made me wonder how ancient man had survived winters without snowblowers, TV weather reporters and indoor plumbing.
I imagined a small tribe of people huddled in a cave around a flickering fire and the arguments that must have taken place as a courageous soul spoke out, “I ain’t going out of this cave in a 40-below wind chill to pee.”
Those were some tough people back in olden times, although they never had to dig through three feet of ice at the end of the driveway placed there not by Mother Nature but a municipal snowplow driver.
“Don’t go outdoors unless it is absolutely essential,” the weatherman had said.
But if you don’t dig out that three feet of ice at the end of the driveway, you may not be able to use the car until the first spring thaw.
It’s not just a block of ice three feet high, but it extends at least four feet up the driveway from the curb and is 10 feet wide. Small snow throwers are pretty useless against a wall of snow-ice.
So modern man digs through the giant ice wall, thinking about climate change and that scientific expedition nearly stranded in the Antarctic.
Some 52 scientists and tourists found their Russian ship trapped in ice and had to be rescued by helicopter. No one seemed too concerned about the 22 crew members of the Russian vessel who planned to stay on board and wait for the ice to thaw.
Why were they there in the first place? Because the scientific team had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson’s 1911-13 voyage to Antarctica.
Well, isn’t that just jolly good fun.
The faces of the crew as their passengers took off for home via helicopter probably looked a lot like the faces of the elderly ladies I saw in the only car that drove past my house Sunday afternoon as the TV broadcast continuous hazardous travel advisories.
The two women, who appeared to be more than 80, were passengers in the car, driven by a man about the same age.
As they peered at me through the windows of the car, traveling at a speed of 5 mph, I was reminded of terrified characters in a Stephen King novel.
Then again, they may have been reacting to the appearance of a man blowing snow in every direction with a machine, just as Mother Nature was doing the same thing with her wind.
That was the day before the snowplow driver arrived, relocating all of the snow from the street onto the driveway.
“It’s not personal,” my wife told me. “It’s business.”
I am sure, the snowplow driver, like Don Vito Corleone, is a good family man simply trying to provide for his family.
But as I’m hacking away at that giant pile of snice (snow and ice) he dropped on my driveway, I’m just thinking one thing — this is how I’m going to die.
I’m going to have a stroke raging at the snowplow driver who is long gone, collapse with shovel in hand and be found by paramedics who are forced to use the jaws of life to pry the snot-encrusted scarf away from my nose and mouth.
“What was this old geezer thinking?” they will wonder. “No one could breath through a scarf covered in snot and ice.”
My wife says that I worry to much. She is right. There are people, I know, who simply accept whatever fate throws their way.
They don’t worry about temperatures being minus-40 or water pipes bursting or fear a terrorist attack.
These are the folks who say things like, “Tornado siren? I didn’t hear anything about a tornado warning. I was out playing golf.”
Instead of watching the weather on TV, they just step outdoors and greet the day.
Sometimes, their ignorance results in death. But they don’t worry about that. They die happy.
I vow to be that sort of person in the future, as I drive the snow shovel downward toward the block of ice in the driveway and shout in anger at the snowplow man.
There are people who love winter and talk about the change of seasons as if they have never actually lived in Chicago.
For me, winter is simply evil, dark, cold and wet. January lasts for 90 days, stealing time that rightfully belongs to June, July and August.
The people doing the TV weather actually seem happy about the awful life the rest of us are forced to live.
“Everybody watch me!” they seem to shout. “The world is coming to an end. Did you see that car skid off the road as I was doing my live report? Wasn’t that great?”
I just want to pull the blankets over my head, go to sleep and wake up to the sounds of lawn mowers and air conditioners humming.
Willis Carrier is the guy who invented the air conditioner.