I can call my post The Hard Winter (unlike Laura who had to change it to The Long Winter) because I don’t have any editors telling me that I shouldn’t tell children anything is hard. 😉
Last year was our first true Iowa winter in a long time and, as Iowa winters tend to run in packs, this one is following along the same lines. Thursday, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I work, had a wind chill of -52 F. To picture how cold that was, the news showed several people taking boiling water outside and throwing it up in the air and it literally froze into vapor and ice pellets before it hit the ground. (Don’t try this at home because if you aren’t careful you can end up throwing near boiling water in your face. There have been several incidents of it happening.)
Wednesday we got 7.5 inches of snow in a 24 hour period. That’s on top of what was there and the roughly 4 inches we had gotten on Monday. I’d say that it had given me some insight on the 1880-1881 winter in De Smet, SD, except that our trains have kept running. We still have electricity and propane for heat and plenty of kerosene if the lights do go out. (We’re starting to make a pretty big dent in the wood supply, but since that’s just supplemental if we run out, we run out.)
The winter weather this year has given me an insight, I think, on the sleds falling through into the pockets made by the slough grass. I think there must have been some freezing rain mixed in with the snow because until this last big storm provided enough snow to make a solid base I’ve been falling through the crust all month. The ice makes a crust and then there is more snow on top of that. You take a step and maybe even it holds you for a second or two and then WHOMP! down you drop 4-5 inches through snow. The hole you make is much larger than your foot because of how the ice sheet breaks up. I think a horse pulling a load must have been like that, but instead of just a few inches if it fell a foot or so, the driver would have a terrible time. It would be hard to maneuver the sled because the way runners are constructed they don’t back up easily (usually not at all). So I think I’ve now shared an experience, in a small way, with Almanzo and Pa.
UPDATED January 2, 2016: I was looking for a good New Year post to reblog and I came upon this one talking about winter weather. Our winter this year hasn’t been near as bad as the one I describe in this post from seven years ago, but I thought it might still be useful to help you understand the process. I broke up the text in a couple more paragraphs, added the photo and signature block and did a little editing for clarity.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.