By Rama Sobhani
I was 9 years old when I discovered my dad’s cache of Beatles album cassettes in a rack in our garage.
I knew my dad loved the Beatles, so I grabbed them all and started listening in earnest. From the moment the first notes of “Love Me Do” hit my tender young ears, I was literally hooked. I devoured all of the Beatles’ albums and to this day remain a devoted Beatlemaniac to the point that when I learn to play a new song on the guitar, it’s the most satisfying to learn one of theirs.
Last night I pulled out my acoustic and brushed up on George Harrison’s beautiful ballad, “Here Comes The Sun” and it suddenly dawned on me that the lyrics were particularly relevant to the moment because as I sit here typing this, we’ve just been made aware by the weather forecast that we’re expecting 6-10 inches of snow in the next few days, followed by bitter cold. On the verge of spring and Old Man Winter’s not done with us quite yet. It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter, indeed.
Whenever the forecast calls for 6 inches of snow and what are described as “bitterly cold” temperatures, I do sometimes question my life choices.
Hopefully, by the time this magazine starts to make the rounds, things look a little better and the snow has all but completely melted away. I don’t have high hopes for that, if the history of this winter is anything to go by. It turned much colder than usual, much earlier than usual and the whole bone-chilling affair just seems to be dragging on more than usual. Usually around this time, I start to get really antsy, anyway, because we’re at the point that spring is so close you can feel it in the air. Visions of catching fish, riding motorcycles and summer travel dance in my head as the spring peepers, the first frogs to awaken from their winter slumber, begin chirping way off in the distance, out in the river bottoms at Ouabache Trails. In fact, the peepers were peeping earlier this week, and now, I’m sure, have reconciled their false start and retreated back into their holes. The peeper, which is a quite small tree frog species, can produce a type of antifreeze that prevents them from being killed in cold weather. So, in the next few days, when the temperature is supposed to drop down to about 10 degrees, the peepers will be just fine. The rest of us, however…
It could be worse … but it could be better
I know it doesn’t get so cold here that daily survival through winter is a legitimate question for most who live here. Certainly, the Midwest is no Siberia, where it gets so cold that gasoline freezes and some people in remote regions have to use a torch on vehicle fuel lines to get them started. Still, whenever the forecast calls for 6 inches of snow and what are described as “bitterly cold” temperatures, I do sometimes question my life choices. It’s moments like those that I start to think about my family back in Southern California, and, while I’ve heard it’s been colder than normal there, as of late, there’s definitely no threat of frostnip from absentmindedly touching anything metal in 10-degree cold. Before I wound up in the Midwest for school, I was blissfully unaware of what winter actually is. During these times of winter dragging on, I kind of miss that ignorance. Give me the “blue pill” on winter.
I know spring will come eventually, it’s inevitable. I’m reminded of my eighth grade U.S. History teacher, Mr. Hughes, who told his class, wisely, that the hardest mile is the last one to run. That’s true waiting for spring, too. One keeps thinking that if you can just tolerate a little more cold, a little more snow, it will all be worthwhile once the delicious spring rains start. Heavy coat weather turns to light jacket weather, beautiful wildflowers spring up at Ouabache Trails and the mushroom hunters come out in droves. They’re the real harbingers of spring. When that comes to pass, I breathe a sigh of relief, having survived another winter. We’re almost there, just a little bit more. Sun, sun, sun, here it comes.