Springfield, MO

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Rusty Saber

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by Joe McAdoo

Words don't often fail me. I spent my career helping students learn to use words, after all. But when it comes to describing winter, words fail me.

Describing the early December weather was a piece of cake. It was unseasonably warm. I wouldn't have complained had the warm weather lasted until spring.

The only ones who didn't like the warm December were those convinced that global warming has doomed the planet to crash and burn. To them the warm weather was proof that gloom and doom were right around the corner.

On New Year's Day, the Global Warmnicks were stuck with equating ice, snow and zero-degree weather with global warming. They still believe global warming has us over a barrel, but for the time being there wasn't a whole lot of warming around America from the Canadian border to Florida.

Although words fail me, I can conjure up enough of them to have something to say to those who yearn each year for a white Christmas. I say, bah, humbug!

If there is anything I hate worse than snow, it is ice.When both visit us within hours of each other, as on New Year's Day, that's when I become, well, I become so, you know, so infuriated that words, well, they won't come to me.

Some misguided souls think ice and snow are beautiful. Ice gathered on trees until limbs either bend to the ground or break off is beautiful? However, should the ice-covered limbs take the electric lines leading to your house with them, the beauty becomes somewhat dimmed.

I've never found anything resembling beauty in a solid sheet of ice on my driveway the streets with a few inches of snow covering the ice.

My early deadline has been well documented; therefore, as I write this, the temperature has finally moved up beyond freezing for one day, at least. Warmer weather translates into living among a sea of slush. Spatters of filthy, salty, muddy water are everywhere. At deadline time, the weather guessers are saying that more snow and ice may be on the way. Words fail me!

Before some winter-lover writes to tell me how mild Springfield's winters are in comparison to those farther north Chicago, for instance I know that! There are a ton of reasons I don't live in Chicago, or any other place up north winter weather being a major one. There was nothing mild about the ice-snow-storm-zero-weather that ushered in 1999; I have no use for it. Who cares if it's worse in Chicago?

As gross and indescribable as winter may be, it does shine a light my light, at least on some true heroes. Like the city and county workers who venture out in the ice and snow to clean streets and highways of the "beautiful" ice and snow so that the folks who think ice and snow is beautiful except on streets can get around. They work long hours, often all night, so roadways are cleared.

Like the City Utilities workers who fight "beautiful" ice and snow to repair downed electric lines and restore power, they are my heroes. I doubt that any of us ever thinks to tell them they are heroes.

Mail carriers are also my heroes. Some carriers walk mail routes, others drive up to curbside mailboxes. Neither will allow a little or a lot of snow and ice stop them. The mail must go through, and it's the mail carriers who see that it arrives pretty much on time.

My mailbox is at the curb. With snow piled around it so that I have to step over big globs of snow to get to it, the mail is always there in the mailbox. I don't know how they get to it. Mail carriers are my heroes.

You may not think of newspaper carriers as heroes. But when you look out your window early in the morning after an overnight snow storm and see your newspaper where it always is, the person who likely was the first to drive down the snow covered street to deliver it deserves hero status.

As far as I'm concerned, everyone is a hero who attacks newly fallen snow, defying the laws of traction on ice, to open the places of business we depend on to meet our needs. They are heroes to me, and should be so recognized. It's a good thing that words didn't completely fail me; otherwise this column would never have been written.

(Joe McAdoo is former chairman of the communication department at Drury College and a Springfield public relations consultant.)

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