Hey there, rest of the USA (especially those of you digging out from a delightful little Nor’easter this week—holla!). Care for a quick word with a born and bred Midwesterner?
I know your calendar says it’s March; my calendar is insisting the same. But I’m going to let you in on a little secret we in Midwest know for sure: this month is basically just one giant practical joke.
See, around this time of year, every year, the same thing happens: we get the goofy notion that spring is on its way. After all, it’s been a solid month since Punxsutawney Phil popped out of that hole, saw his shadow (even if he claims otherwise) and decreed winter to be in it for the long haul.
Foolishly, we tried not to believe him. After all, we get these days—sometimes at the end of February, more commonly in the first few days of March—when the sun shines, the snow begins to melt, and we feel something awakening deep within us that’s been repressed since October.
Hope springs eternal.
Guess what doesn’t? Spring.
You’ve heard the folklore though, that Midwesterners are a hearty bunch, a generally cheerful people that takes most anything in stride. And it’s true, we are, and we usually do.
Pay us a visit in March and you’ll see.
This month, we begrudgingly retrieve ice scrapers from the backseats of our cars (we haven’t put them away in the garage for the year yet, because that would be silly), pull up the hoods of the sweatshirts we’re wearing in an effort to conjure up spring, and chip layers of ice and snow from our windshields like it’s second nature (it is). We fire up the snowblowers. We shovel front walks. We watch local news for school closures that almost never materialize.
And you know something miraculous that actually does spring just as eternal as this wintery weather? We keep our good humor.
Sure, we make that “this weather is really quite stupid and my face literally hurts from the ice pelting my cheeks” grimace to each other with accompanying deep sighs when we run into each other at Scheels. But then we shrug our shoulders, chat excitedly about the upcoming state basketball tournament, and venture back out to face our blustery reality head-on.
Some of you are wondering why, I’m sure. Why do we live here and subject ourselves to this cat-and-mouse with Mother Nature? Why do we put up with blinding snowstorms that halt travel and interfere with our lives? Why do we freeze and darn near blow into neighboring states?
Truthfully? I have no idea. Maybe we’re all just a little bit nuts.
Or maybe we’ve come to understand that despite its flaws and its exasperating refusal to do March without the madness, this landlocked swath of our great nation is home—and we love it. What’s more, we’ve learned to survive it together, leaving us strangely satisfied here in frozen flyover country.
Besides, there’s always April . . .