Eureka Springs Independent Newspaper Column for December 11, 2013

The snow falling now is mixed heavily with sleet and when the wind blows it sounds like someone is throwing handfuls of sand at the window. We don’t usually get a lot of winter weather in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, but what we do get can be interesting. Travelling on ice-covered horizontal roads is risky, but to do so on roads striving to be vertical can be treacherous.

When I attended college in the Arkansas River Valley, I finally caught on to how relative one’s view of weather can be. I had just returned from Germany and had become accustomed to the occasional sizeable snow, and Russellville, Arkansas, has a noticeably milder winter than we do here in Carroll County. But one day while crossing the Arkansas Tech University campus in the spitting snow, I heard a Texan say, “When I moved to ATU, I didn’t know I was moving to the Arctic.”

I had an uncle from Mississippi who told me that north Arkansas was the coldest place on earth. And so it goes. Retirees from Omaha, Neb., laugh at our snowfalls, while denizens of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., winter in Nebraska for the pleasant weather. (I read Sault Ste. Marie can receive 17 ft. of lake-effect snow in a single winter.)

So experience obviously colors our expectations. We’ve all heard people complain how a little bit of winter weather shuts down Eureka Springs, but that attitude can backfire, too. I remember a lady being advised on the telephone to postpone an appointment, but she wouldn’t. “I’m from the north,” she declared. The appointment was postponed when she wrecked her car after sliding off the highway. Ice is ice.

When we first lived in the hollow, Sylvia Teague was our neighbor. She was from Malone, New York, in the Adirondack Mountains near the Canadian border, but she didn’t look down her nose at our winters. She said she liked our weather here because it was a challenge without being deadly.

I never sledded in town on Benton Street or Crescent Grade like the stories I’ve heard from others. I’ve even heard about sledding down Howell Avenue in a canoe. Can’t imagine how you could ever stop.

Send your comments and stories to steve@steveweems.com or P.O. Box 43 in Eureka Springs.

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