Among other things, the extended stretch of winter weather that set up camp in the Ozarks late last week has reminded me how much patience can be required to simply exist in a snow-laden environment.
If you think about it, almost every aspect of daily life is in some way affected when snow falls.
Driving perhaps provides some of snow’s widest-ranging demands for patience.
For example, if you live way out in the sticks and there’s eight or more inches of fresh white stuff all over the place, your local dirt road might resemble an untracked ski run more than a place for cars and trucks to roll and it might take a few tries to get up the final hill leading to the pavement. But with a little patience (or maybe a lot), you can eventually rush up and back down enough times to create a good enough set of ruts for the tires to help you reach the top.
If you choose to have a home beyond the boundaries of where state-funded snowplows go, things might remain a bit tough until the township grader comes through and scrapes away the frozen mess to once again make driving on terra firma possible. But patience always pays off, because the machine always arrives a day or two after the storm (and in our Cass Township neighborhood, does a whale of a good job).
Even just driving around town can take a little patience. Thankfully, we residents of the Jillikins don’t have to deal with the kind of incessant, irritating traffic that our city-dwelling brethren do, but if snow has fallen there might be four or five cars in front of you approaching a stop sign at the bottom of a hill that are moving much more slowly than they usually might. And even on a flat surface, you never know when you might find yourself behind an intrepid soul in a mid-90s, rear-wheel-drive Olds 98 or Chrysler New Yorker who’s doing their level best to slowly advance while keeping the boat between the buoys.
All that’s left at that point is to take a deep breath and be patient.
To be sure, farm animals have to be patient when the snow flies, too.
Obviously, finding grass and other stuff to chew on in a pasture isn’t exactly easy when a winter storm hits, so cows need to hold their horses and horses need to avoid having a cow and just be patient until their local human delivers the goods – and for the most part, they seem to instinctively do just that (although a certain old Arabian gelding I know is prone to acting up and putting on a bit of a show when the local human shows up – no doubt just to feel tough and in charge). And of course, the deeper the layer of snow, the harder finding food can be, so the patience factor basically ratchets up with every flake.
And of course, there are the chickens.
As I write this, members of our little colony haven’t left the cozy confines of their 9X30 enclosed “room” that was formerly an implement storage area on one side of an outbuilding that we converted into an egg-laying bird sanctuary.
They’ve apparently decided that their normal routine of free-ranging during daylight hours isn’t a good idea with snow half as deep as they are tall (or more) covering the ground, and an extended stay indoors will suffice.
But unlike their hoof-bearing neighbors, the chickens’ snow story isn’t one of hardship. To the contrary, it’s almost as if they’re enjoying their indoor vacation. They seem completely content to move about in their room, sitting on their log perches that are mounted to stands attached to the floors and walls, or lounging on square hay bales that are strategically stacked in a couple of key spots around the space’s perimeter – including in front of an east-facing window that we installed so they would have both a view in times like these and light and warmth when the sun rises over the ridge on cold winter mornings.
And no need (or want) goes unanswered in their little world. The rooster boss simply dials up room service each morning (more like yells for it) and a fresh meal and liquid are delivered.
Must be nice.
From what I’ve seen, dogs must also find extra patience during snowy times.
When they go out, they or course eventually want to come back in. And when they do, they can’t just run through the laundry room into the kitchen and leave wet-dog remnants everywhere, they have to hold on and be toweled off first.
Cats? I’d say they’re more or less exempt from the rule, because the outdoor versions can typically find a rat under a barn or old run-down cabin and the couch potato versions never set foot outside the four walls of their castle and get what they want 24-7, 365, no matter the weather.
Anyway, in my younger days I liked cold, wintry weather and even looked forward to it to some extent. But my outlook in my current, more ancient state of being has definitely changed, and I’m looking forward to when we get past the mushy, mucky, muddy aftermath of this outbreak of winter and can return to our normal, less patient ways.
Not that patience is bad and not that I’m advocating impatience in even a small measure, it’s just that I’ll be glad when there’s no snow on the side roads and the horses can graze freely again.
Then again, it’s nice to be tested every now and then and be forced to step outside the boundaries or normality and have to do what it takes to survive in snow. And I can safely say, there aren’t too many things as happy as a horse that just received a bucket of mixed corn and sweet feed in a snowstorm, and it’s gratifying to witness it.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email: email@example.com.