Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 8, 2016

Reflections on walking through a winter wonderland

By Steph Tahtinen

By STEPH TAHTINEN

Mt. Pleasant News

Exactly one year ago from the time I sat down to write this column, Mt. Pleasant and Henry County was preparing for what at the time was called the “snowpocalypse.”

This year, I look out my window and see the sun shining with 40- to 50-degree weather, bare grounds and not a flake in sight. It’s quite a different winter this year, and I find myself nostalgic for the adventure that Feb. 2, 2011 brought.

After driving home in a snowstorm on Tuesday night and barricading myself in my apartment, I woke up Wednesday morning to see the cars in the parking lot up past their tires in snow drifts. I obviously wasn’t going to be driving to work.

As a Wisconsin girl, I wasn’t about to let a little snow deter me. It had already stopped snowing, so the worst of the storm was over. In college, my friends and I once walked a block and a half in a blizzard to buy ice cream. Another time we walked to church in a blizzard. So I wasn’t about to let simple 18-inch drifts stop me from getting where I needed to be.

Plus, it would be an adventure.

I packed a change of clothes and some food for lunch into my trusty old backpack and put on a couple layers of clothes and my snow boots .The cold air and sight and smell of snow brought a smile to my face when I stepped outside. It felt like home.

Now, I’m rather short, so in many places I was walking through snow drifts that were up to my knees. I was grateful I had a pair of pajama pants on under my jeans. I was also grateful that somebody else from my apartment building had walked into town before me, so I was able to step into their footsteps. The person before me had much longer legs, though, as I had to stretch to match them stride-for-stride.

There was something magical about the experience. There were houses all around me and vehicles in driveways, on the sides of the street and sometimes even abandoned in the middle of intersections, but there were no signs of life. It’s like the city was asleep, wrapped up in a blanket of white. I was almost afraid to make too much noise for fear of waking it up.

I took pictures of the sights along my path as I trudged from street to street. I was headed to meet up with some coworkers who were also walking to work, but what would normally take me four minutes to walk took me about twenty minutes because of the drifts. I was grateful when I reached one intersection and discovered that the road I was turning onto had been plowed. My trip was much easier now.

After meeting up with the others, our bundled-up foursome set off towards the newspaper office, walking down the middle of the plowed road, as there was no traffic to be seen. People were still digging out, and as we walked we saw a few shovels and snow plows being put to use.

Turning onto Monroe Street, there were once again drifts covering the road. However, city crews had already started clearing the street, so we were able to follow the tire tracks — it was a bit like walking on a balance beam. I remember us letting out a cheer when we saw the front of the news office.

Throughout the day the roads were cleared and the city came back to life. This made the walk back home an entirely different experience. There was an energy in the air, as opposed to that morning’s stillness. My inner child made an appearance, and I’ve got pictures of me standing next to a snow pile that’s as tall as I am and running up and over a snow bank.

There were no such snow banks this Feb. 2. Although I know many who are grateful of this fact, it makes me a little sad. There are no snowmen, forts or snow angels. No children waddling around all bundled up and puffy from their winter gear. No winter wonderland to take a walk in.

To me, this makes the world seem a bit dreary. But there’s always hope. So that’s what I’m living on now — memories and hope.