Official Newspaper of Eddy County since 1883

Walking in a warm winter wonderland

There’s not enough snow to ride a snowmobile.

The trees are bare, and the stubble from last year’s crop is still visible.

There’s even water running through the ditches in some areas, in January!

It’s “the winter that wasn’t,” some have written. Those that typically revel in that white winter wonderland are depressed to see bare trees and black ground.

All I know is that the unseasonably warm temperatures and little to no snowfall have made winter all the more bearable for me.

Last year at this time, we were buried in snow and experiencing frigid temperatures.

By January 10, Eddy County, Foster County and the City of New Rockford had all issued snow declarations due to “repeated snow and repeated back-to-back multi-day blizzards.” We reported in the Independent that a whopping 61.5 inches of snow had fallen as of January 1. I don’t know about you, but back-to-back multi-day blizzards are not what I consider a wonderland.

It appears the pendulum has swung, and now those of us who live in North Dakota for the warm winters are finally getting our day in the sun.

We took family pictures outdoors yesterday, and we managed to complete the entire session in our long sleeve shirts and sweaters. The afternoon sun, although waning, made a big difference. I was only shivering a little bit at the end. I brought a blanket to wrap around us, but that wasn’t necessary.

We chose Hansen Bridge, which is slated for demolition, and the James River as the backdrop. It is likely our last chance to capture those images on that rickety old bridge that my kids have been fascinated with for years. I say that considering it’s been several years since we last took professional family photos, and likely will be again.

I also find joy in knowing that we’ve made it past the darkest day of the year, and this month alone we’ll gain 60 minutes of daylight.

Yes, the cold will come. I’m sure of that. Yet, it can’t possibly last as long as it did last year when the months of November and December are already behind us.

Yes, I hope that the snowmobilers get their opportunity to hit the trails. There’s plenty of winter left for that.

Yes, I agree that the ice has not been very nice.

In fact, the ice storm right after Christmas was a downright doozy. It was only the fourth time in 20 years that the National Weather Service in Grand Forks has had to issue an ice storm warning.

At the Independent office, we were without power for seven hours on press day. I retreated to the Carrington City Library in the mid-afternoon to work on the Allen Stock tribute. I was there for a mere 15 minutes when the library, and the rest of town, went dark. So we shifted gears and went to work on the New Rockford newspaper, and switched press schedules so we had more time in Carrington.

Kudos to Kyrie, Nathan and Kim, who cranked out the Jan. 1 edition of the Transcript 16 hours ahead of schedule. And I appreciate the dedication of the Independent staff, who spent four hours in the dark on Wednesday and then came back Thursday to finish their work after the power came on.

Also, I want to give kudos to all the lineworkers at our area electric companies, Northern Plains Electric Cooperative and Otter Tail Power Company. They all worked overtime to get the lights back on as soon as possible. The seven hours we endured was nothing compared to some in southeastern North Dakota, who were still without power as of Wednesday, January 3.

A quote from American naturalist and essayist John Burroughs (1837-1921) challenged me this week.

“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.”

Summer will always be my favorite season, but I’m finding new ways to appreciate winter. This year it’s just a bit easier than others.

It might be the winter that wasn’t for some, but it’s a wonderland to me (as long as the power stays on).

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