After a relatively mild start to the snowy season in southwest Wisconsin, Old Man Winter has finally decided to appear. The past few weeks have been plagued with snowy stretches, sub-zero temperatures (followed by above-average warmth), more snow, sleet and most recently, ice, which closed schools in the area for the fifth or sixth time this year.
However, we’ve been pretty lucky. I’ve been thankful for neighbors who, after they’ve finished clearing their own sidewalks and driveways, walked their snowblower over for a quick run up and down my front sidewalk. It’s obvious to me they received the brain waves I send out every time it snows, quietly repeating the message, “Please be kind and help a neighbor out today!”
My boyfriend, Jamie, has been willing to incorporate me into the garage rotation, so I don’t have to get up earlier to clear the snow off my car after a storm dumps a few inches overnight. My landlord even cared enough to text us during the extremely cold stretch to make sure everything was OK at the house.
“Hope you guys stayed warm!” I responded after indicating no pipes had burst and that the leaky spot in the roof, which had taken three repairs over the summer, was still sealed.
I chuckled at his reply: “We survived the cold, but not the kids.”
I could certainly relate.
Although Jamie and I didn’t have to stay home with kids for three days straight, we did have to spend those three days with each other, attempting to work from home in the same space day after day. And I quickly found out that his mere presence was enough of a distraction to disrupt how I worked that whole week.
Don’t get me wrong — we did learn a great new way to make scrambled eggs, thanks to a video we watched of Chef Gordon Ramsey. So at least I was never hungry during the cold stretch. But by the end of that third day, it is safe to say we were both ready to get out of the house and back into environments with other people around.
The first day wasn’t so bad. There’s usually one day of each week when Jamie works from home already, so spending one day at home together wasn’t unachievable. But by the second and third day, he seemed a bit stir crazy— as did I. We tried to find ways we could escape the confines of the house by stepping outside to clear one of the cars off or making a quick run to the post office. But the bitter cold drove us back inside — with my computer screen blinking as a constant reminder that I had work to do.
I found the cold weather seemed to heighten my bad habits of procrastinating and nonstop talking. I found myself immersed in distractions, like doing dishes, laundry, staring out the window at the neighbor with his snowblower. And without the ability to get out and talk to people other than Jamie, he heard quite a bit about everything and anything. It’s almost certain he didn’t hear everything though; after living with me for nearly 10 years, he has found a way to selectively drown out the sound of my voice.
The end of the week brought relief as I could finally escape to the Corn/Soy Expo in Wisconsin Dells, although frigid wind chills were concerning. But I made it — with all that energy I stored up over those three days unleashed as I bopped around to various sessions and connected with other professionals.
The following week I found myself heading to Eau Claire for staff meetings that had been rescheduled from the previous week due to weather. Traveling three hours north, I found that Old Man Winter had visited there too, in the form of ice that morning. The following day, a big snowstorm forced me to drive slowly home, where Jamie was waiting anxiously for my safe arrival.
After a few days away, I was happy to be home again, those three days of being cooped up together seemingly forgotten as I dropped all my stuff right inside the front door and Jamie wrapped his arms around me.
As we prepare for another week of snow in southwest Wisconsin, I’ve been thinking about the school kids, who have now become accustomed to seeing a snowflake and automatically assuming there will be a snow day. I wonder if they understand if they get too many snow days, they’ll eventually have to start making those days up at school.
I’ve also been thinking about spring — those first days on the pasture, attending field days and cruising the backroads on the way to an interview. I’m beyond ready!
All of these snow days certainly have this writer asking, “Is it spring yet?”
Brooke Bechen covers news and writes feature stories in southern Wisconsin. She can be reached at brooke.bechen @ecpc.com or 608-574-5405.