Letter From the Upper Midwest

Storms and other phenomena of nature have their own distinct sounds.  Those who have survived a tornado often say that it sounded “like a train.”  A volley of cannon fire accompanies every thunderstorm.  The gale-force winds of a hurricane howl at nearly 200 miles per hour, as the rain strikes objects with the velocity of a bullet.  The only natural disaster that doesn’t have a sound is a drought, for it is a silent killer, a Kafkaesque occurrence in which a nice, sunny day with nary a cloud in the sky brings disaster.

A blizzard falls somewhere between hurricane and drought.  Blizzard winds can gust to 80 miles per hour or more, and you can’t help but hear the shrieks, wails, and moans of the air rattling through the window panes, haunting you like a ghost.  When the winds die down and it’s just the snow falling, however, you can pull the shades down and cozy up by the fire next to your favorite hound or loved one and pretend not to notice-until it’s time to shovel the driveway.

There weren’t that many whitewash blizzards in the Upper Midwest last winter; in some places, there were none at all.  Most of the nastiest storms struck the southern parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin, falling into Iowa and Northern Illinois.  This troubles folks here.  This may seem strange to outsiders, who wonder why anyone would derive pleasure from six-foot...

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