Humans short on memory and long on vanity can make weather appear sneaky. Tires spinning with futility on Interstate 29 during the previous big blizzard offered cold, slick proof.
You would think that a week’s advance notice would be enough to prevent massive traffic tie-ups. “The blizzard of the century is coming,” the newscasters said. Of course, the century is only 13 years old, so how bad could it be? I’ve been experiencing Mother Nature’s fickle weather for enough decades to warrant wisdom.
So when I arose last Thursday (Feb. 21) and saw the familiar brown, bare winter ground, I knew no mere snow storm could stop me. Snow is an adventure, right? A Platte Countian is imbued with common sense born of country living at the city’s doorstep. Plus, I’ve been to Alaska. Snow should not be insurmountable for a person with driving wits sharpened by decades at the wheel. My simple task was driving into Kansas City’s heart and back again despite a predicted blizzard.
The big white flakes began to fall as I pulled out of the driveway. Platte County’s rolling hills turned whitish as I drove south past the airport. Everything was pure white a few minutes later as I rolled past Barry Road. Traffic speed changed from slow to slower. The bolder drivers began to weave to the right and left of cars barely moving at all. A blizzard can be beautiful. The Bond Bridge and the Missouri River flowing below are striking on a sunny day. Swirling, giant snowflakes make the River and Bridge medieval grand. I was still in a good mood when I reached my office near the Country Club Plaza. Getting somewhere on a bad weather winter day instills pleasant satisfaction, once the traveler is safe and warm.
But there is no sense getting too comfortable. So I went outside to shoot snowy photographs. I’d forgotten how much harder it is to walk in foot deep, heavy snow. Boots slide as you try to get traction. Wind-driven flakes stung my face. Chilled fingers fumbled on the camera. I dug for gloves in my coat pocket. Cold and wind took my breath away even while standing still. Walking into the wind back toward the office became a chore. This was a really serious winter storm.
You can’t drink just one cup of hot coffee on such a day. So I drank two, the cup filled to the brim.