Winters in Central Indiana are mild. As a little kid in the South I envied the amounts of snow it seemed the rest of the world received, what with those wonderful white Christmases they had to help Santa’s sleigh--a snow vehicle even if it did fly—slickly dash around in its service of delivering presents. Christmases in the South featured bright suns pouring over flattened, brown grass. Once moved to Indiana, the state did deliver snow, but never in amounts that measured up to my postcard fantasies.
Today, well into March 2014, snow still lies on the front lawn. Almost all of the snow cover has melted, but through a collusion of factors—where I piled shoveled snow, how long the sun directly hit the lawn, and certainly due to other conditions I’m unable to discern—a strip of snow runs along each side of the walk leading across the lawn to the street. These strips of snow have been there since the middle of December. That month’s Christmas was white, bags of salt and sand vanished and the snow shovel stayed in good use except for the time I abused it, maniacally striking half-inch-thick ice that hours of attention had not prevented from accumulating on the front stoop before guests arrived. If you have seen the movie Platoon and remember the silhouette of Sgt. Barnes backlit by napalm as he homicidally raised the entrenching tool, that was me. I had had enough.
Two or three times now it seemed that Central Indiana had experienced its last significant snowfall, but these instances were nothing more than wishful thinking. We are well into March and I will not be shocked to find myself shoveling snow in mid-April. The lawn, normally green before spring, is battered muddy and brown by the continual freezing from months of polar air. The grass isn’t usually this brown in a normal January. Two years ago I was mowing grass by now.
And what do I want from all this freezing? Exceptionalism. I want this to be the worst winter on record, the one with the heaviest snowfall, deepest temperatures and longest-lasting snow cover. I not only want it to be the worst on record, I want it to be the worst on record by far, an example of science fiction freakishness in real life. I want a demonstrably horrible winter as a vindication of my hours of shoveling and the years I spent with crappy, brown Christmases south of the Mason-Dixon line. I want bragging rights, by God, that I’m the toughest guy on earth because I went out there and cleared that stuff by the work of my burning fingers and toes. All hail.
Last I heard the winter was only second worst on record. First worst would be better, but I fear statistics will not show the temporary Ice Age apocalypse my ego needs.
All I can do to salve my disappointment is think of the others whose misfortunes in this winter have ranged from the miserable to the deadly in regions beyond my confines of my skull in provinces beyond old Indiana. We have been through a lot and there will be more of something else coming down the pike soon enough.