By Dave Coulter
I can't be the only one who awaits the weekly updates from the U.S. Drought Monitor. Every Thursday the new map comes out with it's odd swirls of yellows, tans and reds which indicate the dry regions of the United States. It's far more interesting than waiting for the lottery numbers, and I have an equally good chance of winning anything.
Well, it's no secret that we're still very dry here and there has been some talk lately about our string of snow free days here in Chicago. Perhaps we're in the midst of a new warm period - much like others in past years? They were laying new sod in Scoville Park this week, a sure sign of winter. Sentences like that, written in December, are an anomaly. Even more so is the fact that all that new sod needs to be watered in. (It all looks great, by the way)
There's little point in being my age without taking opportunities like this to wax nostalgic. But you know, there sometimes is some truth within those rose-tinted memories. It really was snowier - wasn't it? We really did ice-skate on ponds and in flooded parks - didn't we? I recently worked on a project where I surveyed adults about memories of their childhood nature experiences. This was not entirely scientific, but many who were over age 40 mentioned "ice skating" in their response. I'm now starting to feel like the wintry bits of my childhood occupied some sort of 1960's American version of a Peiter Bruegel winter landscape.
Of course there's a bias in focusing too much on one part of one's memories. For some reason I don't really recall any mild winter days of my childhood - and I'm sure there were many. Perhaps the elements of snow and ice, cold and wind are more memorable for reasons of survival. There's a real danger in that type of weather for thinly-furred primates. Perhaps our brains have evolved to place a mental pin next to those events to protect us from exposure?
For the time being I'll ponder the drought map on my computer monitor, with it's colorful blobs of warm and hot colors. And I'll recall that last pair of ice skates I outgrew at the end of high school and handed off to my nephew.