The blizzard bogeyman

We were all ready for it.

We battened down the hatches, raised the red flags, made emergency runs to the grocery stores and kept the young ‘uns safely indoors.

Snowmageddon, as one of my friends referred to it, the massive blizzard that was to descend upon us Thursday, came and went with much less fanfare than expected.

Because, as it turned out, it was pretty typical winter weather for Iowa.

When did Iowans become afraid of winter?

I am a native Iowan, and we’ve had driving snow, ice-encrusted roads, howling winds and slushy wintry mixes throughout my life. As I remember it, we used to be proud of our ability to withstand winter’s challenges. We used to brag about how tough Iowa’s winters were.

I grew up in a rural area where we spent more than a day or two without electricity or telephone service (and for the younger generations, there was a time before cell towers existed and all telephones had land lines, party lines even where you had to wait your turn to use your own phone).

As Iowans, we often took some perverse pleasure in regaling others with tales of how we survived the cold and isolation.

Fast forward decades and we have much more advanced technology. Our vehicles are safer and better equipped. Our roads are better engineered. Our communications devices have the ability to transmit emergency information in the snap of a finger, should we veer off the traveled road.

Yet, with all those advancements, we have become increasingly afraid of one of the most natural elements in our world – the weather.

Predictions of 4 to 6 inches of snow make us cower as if we’d all grown up in Georgia and wanted to drive home on the freeway in rush hour.

Is driving in snow and slush fun? Rarely.

It is dangerous? Sometimes.

Is it survivable? Quite often, especially if we slow down, pay attention and focus on what’s ahead of us.

I wonder how many people who didn’t go to work, to school or to other scheduled events Thursday made their decision to stay home based on the predictions of meterologists in faraway places who had consulted their best radar models? How many of the folks who stayed indoors never tried to start their cars, back out of their driveways and test the roads?

I’m not saying people shouldn’t be cautious. Sometimes, you try and find out you have to turn back.

To me, what’s more distressing than sliding around on a slippery road is being too afraid to venture out and determine my own course of action.

Barbara Wallace Hughes is managing editor of The Messenger.