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Woster: I should have known better than to bring up the weather

A twice weekly column from Chamberlain resident and South Dakota Hall of Fame inductee Terry Woster

Terry Woster
Terry Woster

When I saw late last week that forecasters expected winter to make a belligerent return to most of South Dakota for a few days, I was pretty sure it was my fault.

I wouldn’t want anyone to be angry, but I kind of asked for it. I should have known better, because I’ve done it before. In my defense, I had good intentions.

Most of us have had a decent run of pretty nice weather for late January into much of February, haven’t we? Sure, there have been places with snow storms and icy winds and even some bad roads. We expect that in South Dakota. But a good share of the post-New Year weather has been tolerable for a lot of us.

Where I live, for example, the ice shacks that dotted the Missouri River were removed many days ago as the ice left the water. The ice I’ve seen recently has been in chucks floating downstream toward the Gulf of Mexico. That’s how things get when days warm to the upper 30s, low 40s, even a few 50s. As the guy I bumped into at the gas station said over the weekend, “We’ll take all of this kind of winter we can get, am I right?’’ We like to talk that way here in central South Dakota when the weather is mild five or six weeks before actual spring.

I seldom travel. Weather shouldn’t bother me much. During the one recent trip I have made, though - to Pierre and back in a day - I ran into freezing rain near Presho, cut my speed to about 45 mph on the interstate and finished the Highway 83 leg going 25 mph for about 20 miles. Viewing winter weather from behind a windshield can be unnerving. Viewing it from a big picture window that overlooks the river? That’s a whole other thing.

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That’s what I was doing the other day when I jinxed things. I like to stand by that window and study the river, the trees, the eagles and owls, the squirrels and stray cats. If a guy can’t do that every so often, what’s the point of being retired, anyway?

As I stood there, it occurred to me that the lawn is incredibly dry. We had to replant much of it after a construction project last spring. We managed to keep it alive through the heat of the summer, and I was counting on snow cover to have it ready to grow when spring actually does arrive. That patch of brittle, yellow-brown grass hasn’t seen snow since, well, I’m not just sure when.

“Hate to say it, but the lawn could use a good blanket of snow,’’ I mused aloud. I meant it, but not enough to really want snow. Wouldn’t you know? The very next evening, the guy on the weather show began talking about a big snowstorm heading our way. He expected it to hit the west last Sunday and move across the state for a few days. Several inches of snow, obnoxious northwest wind and temperatures as much as minus 15 or minus 20 overnights. That’s just rude.

Anyway, I apologize. I said earlier that I should have known better. That’s because some years ago, returning to Pierre after a business trip to Sioux Falls, I detoured through my old farm country north of Reliance. I stopped by the home place, waved at an old neighbor or two and visited the cemetery where my folks are buried now.

It was a week or so before Christmas. I guess the nostalgia got to me. I wrote a column about the journey, saying the only thing missing was a fresh covering of snow for Christmas. I thought people might like the piece.

A couple of days after the column ran in the paper, it snowed like crazy – deep, wind-driven, bitterly cold snow. I shoveled my share or more, since I lived on a corner lot at the time. I got a short letter from a friend. “Satisfied? It’s all your fault.’’

On the bright side this time? Most people no longer write letters.

Related Topics: WEATHER
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