There are a lot of differences between where we’re coming from (Rhinelander) and where we live now, in the heart of Arlington, VA, almost within sight of the Washington Monument. Arlington has fewer trees and more restaurants; fewer deer and a lot more traffic. The funniest difference, though, is found in how the general population responds to the weather. I’ve been in training for about eight weeks now, and I think I’ve lost almost a week of total training time due to weather related cancellations and delays. Whenever there are complications on the roads the Federal Government tells its nonessential personnel (so most of us) to stay home. And it doesn’t take much to shut things down. An inch of snow means a two hour delay. Four inches means we’re shutting it down completely. I don’t think I missed a single day of work to the weather in Rhinelander…despite apocalyptic blizzards and winds that were so cold your nose hairs would freeze up on that first breath and your car battery would die if you didn’t go out and run the engine every couple of hours. We just kept going to work.
Being here, though, is sort of like being in Middle School again. Whenever there is snow in the forecast we all eagerly watch TV and listen to the radio in the hopes of hearing that we don’t have to go to class the next day. When the cancellation comes we jump up and down for joy, and spend the day watching movies, playing video games, going sledding, etc.
At first I would roll my eyes. I mean, back in Rhinelander it would take a good two feet fallen in a twelve hour period before anyone would even think about not showing up to work. I started to think that my new neighbors were wimps. But then I got a look at how awful your average Virginian is at driving in the snow. They just aren’t raised the same as we Northerners are, what with our polar bear hunts and living in igloos and all. I learned how to drive in the snow before I learned how to drive on dry roads, so it’s easy to forget how challenging it can be. A little bit of snow on the road here means that there are accidents everywhere. Most of the smart people stay home so as to avoid getting stuck in traffic, or hit by a stray car. So I’ve dropped my judgment, and have decided to start enjoying the frequent snow days.
Alas, I think they may be over by now. The sun is out and the robins are pecking through the grass that is already turning green. I think our days of snow may be over for a little while.