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  • G. L. Gooding

Writers Life: Ohio - A Winter Wonderland Best Seen from Florida


For reasons that will become clearer in a future blog on the #Writer’s Life Sarah and I decided, rather quickly to move back home, home being the Midwest. This, after being in California for over forty years. Why, you may ask (graciously leaving off the, you crazy fool, comments)? But as any good Midwesterner knows, you can take the Midwesterner out of the Midwest but you can’t take the Midwest out of the Midwesterner. (Does that confuse you as much as it does me?)


To confuse you even more, Sarah, as a Michigander, and I, as an Illinoisan, moved to Ohio. That is not as strange as it may seem. My dear wife was actually born in Ohio and lived there for a blink of an eye. She certainly did not remember any of her time there. Being a University of Michigan grad, living in Buckeye country makes the move for her even stranger. As I said earlier, the rationale for the move will be addressed in more detail in a future blog.


So, in June 2020, Sarah and I finally stopped talking about a move and pulled the trigger, thanks in great part to my brother-in-law’s challenge. Anyway, in the span of six weeks, we found a home in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, packed up, and moved across country, replacing years of procrastination with action at warped speed.


The move was made mid-year and was followed by the most glorious end of summer and fall one could have imagined. Those who have been in Chagrin Falls and surrounding environs know how beautiful this part of the country is. Unconvinced, our friends back in California said, wait until winter comes.


Well the winter of ‘20-’21 came. There was one big snow (12 inches) just after Thanksgiving and an eight-inch storm in March. Otherwise, the winter was mild (only one day below zero) and relatively dry. What helped make it easier to deal with, was retirement. We could just sit back with our coffee or a drink in front of the fireplace and watch all the other folks struggle down the streets or sidewalks. (We didn’t have Cooper then.)


During this honeymoon period, we selectively absorbed positive information about where we’d moved, things like Lake Erie keeping the winter temperatures milder and snow usually coming in small doses that kept the ground pristinely white. Indeed, the snow-covered hills and trees presented spectacular photo opportunities. And to have a white Christmas for one of the few times in decades made the holiday truly special. Nothing like a roaring fire near a glowing Christmas Tree with the snow gently falls outside. Ah, paradise - except for garbage night.


Fast forward one winter, starting in January 2022. After a nearly snowless December and almost balmy New Year’s Day, we got the first measurable snow, a mere four-inches. It was beautiful and manageable. I hardly had to lift a shovel, something I’d not done in earnest for, well, for four decades. Then another snow quickly came adding about four-more inches. Again, an easy task especially with the temperature, as promised, hovering in the mid to upper 20’s.


As the month progressed, however, the snow kept coming, never letting the sun show through to melt any of the accumulation. Only then, did we recall several locals saying that Chagrin Falls was in the heart of the Eastern Ohio snowbelt. This was only an issue however, if temperatures remained reasonably high so Lake Erie didn’t freeze. It didn’t.


The last week of January two major snow storms arrived. One combined “lake effect snow” with a named winter storm out of the west. (What’s with naming winter storms like hurricanes anyway? Does that mean the big storms of my past were somehow less dramatic?) Between the two, I estimated another two-feet fell with a strong wind whipping up generous drifts.


Smaller snowfalls then followed these massive storms adding to a landscape pretty much void of any visible bush or small tree. When the temperature plunged for a week, the neighborhood took on the look of a scene from Doctor Zhivago. Then, in spite of the cold, a fresh layer of snow would greet us most mornings.


I shoveled constantly, so much in fact that a long dormant arthritic joint in my shoulder decided to protest. At one point, the paths I had repeatedly cleared resembled bobsled runs. If not for a generous neighbor who snow blew the entire sidewalk on our block as well as parts of my driveway, I may have been found under a drift when it melted in spring.


Early in February, Sarah had had enough and abandoned me for her sister’s place in Sarasota. I could not leave at that point since little Cooper was recovering from being neutered (a two-week process covered in an earlier blog). I remained behind shovel in hand and eye to the sky. As soon, as our little guy had healed however, I was on a plane to join Sarah in Florida for the last ten-days of the month. By the way, the day I left, we got six more inches of the white stuff.


While in Florida, we watched as temperatures back home climbed into the 40’s and 50’s with little to no snow. Leaving Florida late on March first, we headed home full of optimism for a spring that seemed clearly in the air.


The first day home we arose to a strange sight. There was actually some ground and plants visible. Though the snow still dominated the scene, the high temperature reached 54 degrees. That night, however, it snowed an inch and the temperature plunged to three. And the forecast is for several inches of snow next week, the week before spring officially begins. Sigh.