Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - March 1, 2013


While not everyone may have welcomed last week's snowstorm, for me it was a nice change in routine and I have a hunch it also was for thousands of other Kansans. I know that farmers who desperately need moisture hope it arrived in time to save the winter wheat.

By late Wednesday afternoon, most of us knew that the next day would be a SNOW DAY! School districts and universities, including Kansas State University, the University of Kansas and Wichita State University, announced their campuses would be closed.

I could hear shouts for joy reverberate through my building when the announcement came out on K-State Alerts and on the university's website.

Friend Joyce, who works in a Wichita school, emailed me that she was so excited, she actually was like a little kid. She said her dog Sammy thought she was nuts and started barking at her.

The impending storm was predicted to bring so much snow, it was dubbed "snowmageddon" by some. Oldest daughter Mariya, who teaches at K-State, asked me if I was ready for the "snowpocalypse." She texted that she was going to get groceries after her classes "and then hibernate inside for days."

The advance warning gave us time to pick up groceries, water, salt, shovels, cocoa mix and marshmallows before the storm hit. Emergency crews had time to get salt and sand trucks ready. Several times during the night, I could hear the trucks on the highway some distance from our house. Normally, being awakened at night by an unfamiliar sound would have upset me some as I'd worry I wouldn't get enough sleep. But when all you have to do the next day is whatever you want to do, thinking about that in the middle of the night is really quite comforting.

By morning, the snow on our deck was 10 inches deep in spots and a "wave" of white was perched precariously from the guttering. It was beautiful - and I was glad to be inside looking out at it.

Husband Art and I slept until 9 or so - very unusual, indeed, since he normally wakes up at 6:30 or 7 and I awaken shortly after. We took advantage of the time to catch up on various odd jobs. I wrote a letter to brother-in-law Tommy. I also graded papers, went through scholarship applications, took photos and made a nice meal of vegetable soup, rolls and peach cobbler.

Art - who is originally from Wisconsin - didn't let a "little" 10-inch snow stop him from getting out in it. In the mid-afternoon, he headed to town from our home five miles away. His 1992 Topaz is small, but it had no trouble plowing through the snow-covered streets. He told me later that the only other times he had seen Manhattan that deserted was on Christmas Eve!

Mariya and younger daughter Katie took advantage of their day off from school to build a snowman. Although the snow was powdery and didn't pack well, the girls were able to make a squat creature that looked like the "Jabba the Hut" character from the "Star Wars" movies.

Friend Deb said Wichita ended up with 14.2 inches of snow.

"We needed 15 inches to tie the all-time record - so this ended up being the second biggest snowstorm in Wichita history. I think we all bragged way too loudly about having such a mild winter and mother nature decided to show us something and shut us up! Wow!

Yesterday at 5 a.m., we were awakened by the hugest thunder boom - we had snow thunder for about 30 minutes. It was so strange. Then the snow came and didn't let up until last night..."

Joyce told me via text that she was enjoying herself.

"I LOVE these snow days. I get so much done I enjoy. Cleaning and cooking... my favorite things. We got 14 inches of snow. Our trash truck got stuck outside our drive this morning. I am feeling so energetic!"

Friend Linda also savored her day.

She texted: "Cooked a little. Watched a movie. Graded papers. Played in the snow. Never left home. Loved it. You?"

But even though we Kansans enjoyed our snow day, our experience probably can't compare to that of my Costa Rican friend Harold, who is spending the spring semester at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

"We are really amazed about this snow ... this is our first experience with a real winter, and we feel very lucky to have this big storm because people have mentioned that this quantity of snow is not very usual here ..."

It's not unheard of, but Harold is right. It's not very usual either.

A few years ago, we had a snowstorm that was preceded by freezing rain. It took down many power lines and we were one of the folks without power for days. While driving through the countryside after the storm subsided presented many beautiful scenes, in balance, it wasn't much fun. But every now and then, a nice little "snowpocalypse" can be downright enjoyable.

Left: Early in the snowfall, Mariya, left, and Katie, were going to make a traditional snowman, but the snow was too powdery to pack. So, instead, they decided to make "Jabba the Hut" from the "Star Wars" movies; right: friend Harold from Costa Rica experiences the first real snowfall of his life.

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