Sure, up in Northern New York, it is not often that we get tornadoes. Most people have never felt the winds or rains of a hurricane. We do not experience building-demolishing earthquakes, and have never seen tsunamis. Mass flooding is a rarity, though will happen periodically, and volcanic eruptions are a thing of our imagination. But Northern New York isnít completely free of natural disasters. Up here, we experience Northern New York Winters.
People around here see the effects of natural disasters around the United States, and many wonder why people would choose to live in a place that annually gets hit by hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes. They seem to forget that they chose a similar location to settle. Every winter, we experience heavy snow storms, sometimes building up to four, five, even six feet of snow. Temperatures below zero are the norm; there are rumors that it has been so cold that a glass of water thrown into the air would freeze before it hit the ground. Temperatures like that are much too cold for children to be playing outside.
I can remember a New Years Eve with all of my cousins, sitting around the kitchen, watching the thermometer in our snow suits and boots and hats and mittens, waiting for it to read 0 degrees so we could go out and play because our parents told us that below zero was too cold playing outdoors. But people up here donít realize that our winters are equal to hurricanes and tornadoes in the south. We have found ways to adapt.
When it starts getting cold, we start stocking up on canned goods, candles, flashlights, batteries, blankets, and heating oil or wood. Heavy winter coats, hats, and mittens adorn everybody from babies to great-grandparents. Plows are fitted onto trucks and tractors and snow shovels are perched next to the front door. Vehicles are fitted with snow tires and bags of sand and salt are purchased. Kids start praying for snow days and dream about snowball fights and snow forts. Nearly everybody takes part in these annual preparations. Here in Northern New York, if you donít get ready for the winter, the winter will plow you over.
But there is a definite beauty associated with the snow. After the first big snow fall of the year, everything looks so peaceful and beautiful underneath the heavy blanket. Trees get their winter coats, children cover the yard in snowmen, snow angels, and snow forts, and snow plows make banks all along the roads to ensure that if a car is tricked into a patch of slick black ice, it has a buffer between it and a telephone pole. Sometimes the snow and ice do get the better of us, but the Northern New York Winters are definitely one of a kind.
Many people complain about the cold and the snow, but year after year, they are here for the winter, despite the abhorrence. But I would take a Northern New York Winter over a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake any day.
Some information in the month's Spotlight has been borrowed from Fred Schneider's article "Along the Black River."