As a child of the Midwest, I’m used to heavy rain and snow. In Iowa, where I was born and raised, eight foot tall snow drifts were not uncommon and every man, woman and child was expected to help shovel that heavy snow from the driveways and sidewalks of our neighborhoods.
School was never called off because of heavy rain. Falling snow only called off school or work in the most extreme cases — perhaps only once every two years for the first 24 years I lived in Iowa. The weather builds character and facing Mother Nature head-on is a Midwestern rite of passage that everyone must face.
To give in to the cold, wind or fog is to admit defeat at the hands of the elements. If Midwesterners were paused by the weather, no fields would be tilled, no crops would be harvested. The food the nation eats would not be harvested and processed. Schools and stores would close in Iowa only when the snow got so deep that the snow plows couldn’t keep the roads clear. The farmers, on the other hand, never had the luxury of closing due to the fickle weather.
Now let’s talk about Easterners and their relationship with the weather. It was a big surprise when my husband and I moved to Washington, D.C. and discovered that just the threat of rain would close the schools because no one in D.C. knew how to drive in inclement weather! They don’t know enough to slow down, drive slowly, be cautious. D.C.-ers confess to this and don’t find this behavior shameful or strange at all! D.C.-ers drive at all times as if it’s sunny and 60 degrees even when ice sheets pave the road.
When it begins to snow in D.C., look out, because all Hell breaks loose! There are bunches of accidents, the schools close before the first flake hits the ground, people call in sick to work all because they’re afraid to drive or walk in the snow. The reason, I’m told, is not because D.C. drivers don’t know how to drive defensively in the snow, but because D.C. has no snow plows of its own! If the snow falls, the snow stays there until the state of Maryland is finished plowing their roads and then D.C. gets their roads plowed by the Maryland crews.
Crazy, isn’t it? There’s probably a lot to be said for D.C. not knowing how to properly solve adverse conditions that the rest of the nation must cope with, but I’ll leave further analysis of that issue to the Politicians.
Now that I live in New York, I’ve discovered that Manhattan really doesn’t have much of a weather problem. It rarely gets cold here. I’ve lived in Manhattan for ten years and the snow has never been heavy or deep. It’s usually pretty nice here. I guess the reason for the nice weather all year long is because Manhattan is an island and we don’t get the harsh weather conditions that places like upstate New York, middle New Jersey and most of Connecticut get because we’re surrounded by water. Go figure.
I’m not complaining, mind you, but when it rains in New York, look out! Usually tough-nosed New Yawkers pull out their thumbs and begin sucking on them when the raindrops start to pour. What were once hard-talking-aggressive personalities suddenly become sugar cubes in water: They dissolve completely! If you’re ever robbed in New York, I’d bet tossing a glass of water on the robber would do more wonders than mace or pepper spray!
Rain, Rain, Go Away…
Native New Yorkers are just plain scared of the rain. They act as if it is poison and if one droplet touches them, they’ll melt away like the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. Rain is a Midwesterner’s revenge against the Big Apple cockiness! New Yorkers cannot get wet. They huddle under their umbrellas and newspapers and store awnings until the last droplet is dry. Even a slight sprinkle will send a New Yorker racing for a raincoat!
When I’m with my New York friends and it begins to rain, I keep on walking. I like the feel of rain on my face. I don’t care if my hair gets wet. The rain reminds me of home. My friends, however, try to coax me under their umbrellas as if I were a suicide jumper teetering on the Williamsburg Bridge!
When I refuse to take cover with them, they give me a sorrowful look as if I’m crazy or just plain hopeless: “Poor Janna doesn’t know enough to come in out of the rain.” I love it! Oh, and if you have a meeting in New York and it begins to rain? Count on getting a call canceling the meeting. They won’t confess directly that the reason for the cancellation is their fear of getting wet, but since there’s no such thing as a coincidence — you can create your own conclusion.
Rain and snow don’t phase me… but the threat of an earthquake? Yikes! That scares me to death. I guess I’ll never be a California babe, because at the first sign of any shaky ground, I’ll be racing for the outdoors, spread flat on the ground, praying for rain.