This winter is doing some strange things. For me, it’s producing a strange sense of sympathy for a bowl of petunias.
I don’t quite remember when I first came across Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” It was most likely in junior high, when I had the time to read anything that caught my interest. It was my first introduction to the idea of comedy in a science fiction setting, and I’ve read it quite a few times since.
In perhaps the book’s most memorable scene, two nuclear missiles spontaneously turn into a whale and a bowl of petunias. The problem for each is that they’re several thousand feet above the surface of a planet and descending rapidly.
The reader gets a rather extended look into the whale’s thoughts, which end when he finds that the ground is not, in fact, a new friend. The flowers, Adams wrote, thought only one thing: “Oh no, not again.”
Later installments reveal the petunias were a creature known as Agrajag, who lives, dies and is reincarnated numerous times. Each time his death is somehow related to the actions of Arthur Dent, one of two humans who escaped the destruction of Earth to make way for an expressway.
This winter, I feel a bit like Agrajag. But it’s Mother Nature who keeps taking aim.
On Thursday it was possible for a few hours to feel like spring was indeed just around the corner. It was pleasant. I ran to the car at one point without my coat on and returned without feeling like I had made an expedition to the arctic.
It was a fake. A setup. By the time I went to bed the temperatures had fallen more than 30 degrees and were settling into the single digits. Winter was back, despite the evidence currently being offered by teams in Florida and Arizona.
Oh no, not again.
The forecast doesn’t offer much relief. Saturday night will bring another 2-4 inches of snow. It will be the 15th time since the snow began in November that Ottumwa will get at least a half-inch of snow.
Say it with me: Oh no, not again.
At this point I’m thinking a class-action suit against a certain groundhog for false advertising might be warranted.
I’ve spent most of my life in the Midwest, but my family is very much Southern. Mardi Gras always meant a king cake. Jambalaya and creole always included shrimp. And beans weren’t even a consideration when we made chili.
For most of us, freezing meant anything below about 60 degrees. They thought my parents were crazy to move to a state that saw snow every year, and I’m beginning to wonder whether they weren’t right. Though what does that say about me for moving further north?
It will end, of course. Eventually. The likelihood of seeing snow, ice and freezing temperatures by June is very low.
Lower, perhaps, than a bowl of petunias popping into the sky above a frozen planet.