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Traveling With an Air of caution

Editorial | January 19th, 2022

By Sabrina Hornung

sabrina@hpr1.com

Our opinion: Living in winter-wonder, why are we still here?

As old man winter rears his ugly head across the Midwest, we’re reminded that we’re at the mercy of the unpredictability of the elements. Maybe this is why the weather is always such a hot topic of conversation among midwesterners. It’s something we can all wallow in together as we all suffer in our winter-wonder-why we're still here and not in some place warm like say…Arizona.

In 2018, contributing writer Zach Nerpel noted in a Last Word piece that winter was “our last communal misery,” and I think about that every time I begrudgingly scrape my windows on frosty frigid mornings.

It’s the one thing we can all agree on and it definitely reminds us to be kind to our neighbors. Who else will pull us out of the ditch when worst comes to worst? It’s one of the rare times where we can trust the kindness of strangers and finally realize a person’s character isn’t just read with their bumper stickers.

Nearly a decade ago I got stuck trying to leave my apartment on Broadway. The snow was heavy, the ice slick and my little Ford Escort was in a compromising position in oncoming traffic. Thankfully a carload of NDSU students was driving around looking for people to help out. They leapt out of the vehicle with smiles on their faces and shovels at the ready. They wouldn’t accept any compensation either, and they left as soon as they appeared.

Though not everyone shares this good will. Another instance involved a motel owner in rural North Dakota turning a friend away because their debit card was frozen after paying a hefty dental bill. The motel owner refused to send a bill and they were sent packing in zero visibility spending the night in a Cenex parking lot, thank dog for good heaters and a full tank of gas. The proprietor was clearly not a good North Dakotan, or a North Dakotan period – even bad North Dakotans see the danger in this.

I love conversations surrounding weather in the winter, because then it’s actually news, it’s like an ongoing story. You follow the weather radar, then hear firsthand accounts from peers and acquaintances. It’s something we can all relate to. We all understand the gravity of the situation. Then if it’s bad enough we’re stopped in your tracks. We’re forced to slow down because it’s a matter of life and death. It’s proof that the elements are something much bigger than us and they're something we have no control over.

It’s all very humbling.

It’s sad that we don’t treat a global health crisis with the same air of caution and regard for others. We dress to protect ourselves from the elements. We help each other out to the best of our abilities, and pass on incoming information. If you see a stranger without gloves you question why, and sometimes if you have an extra pair you pass them along with them, because you know.. “Your fingers are the first to freeze.”

Then again you can’t propagandize the winter. It's something that chills us to the bone, we’ve been warned about its severity for generations. The danger winter presents is ingrained within us. Why don’t we have the same air of caution for a highly contagious disease?

Winter comes and goes then it’s soon followed by the spring, and flowers grow where the snow piled up and the same can be said about this virus.

I hope that spring comes sooner than later.

A parting thought: some of the best and kindest countries have cold weather. Finland, Norway, Canada. Because they have to help each other get through the winter?

That’s my theory anyway. 

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