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Snow

This is Roald Tweet, on Rock Island.

One January morning, Rock Islanders woke to fourteen inches of snow. It fell fast, blowing into drifts on the downwind side of fences and bushes and in the corners of porches.

The snow came two inches away from an all-time record. The few cars venturing out to work along the main road slid down the bluffs toward the river as if they were toboggans. No sense even thinking about shoveling the sidewalk and steps; they'd just drift in again behind us.

A caller from Florida came on a local talk show and invited us to move to Boca Raton and join him on the beach. He wonders why anyone would deliberately choose to live in the Midwest.

Just another outsider who doesn't understand. Why would we want to leave this? There is nothing in this world more soothing than lying in a warm bed listening to the crisp pellets of the blizzard fighting to come through the window, frosting the window with intricate leaves. There is no thrill greater than lying in that same bed early in the morning listening to the growing list of school closings on the television until your school is there. Moline, no school today. Yes.

Outside, the whole world has turned white with blue shadows. Folks in the South get a poor imitation of the effect from the Kudzu vine, which is covering the woods and trees with a green funeral blanket. But this white blanket is no funeral, it is renewal, the world washed white, streets and dirty cars and toys left out in the yard all turned to marshmallow blobs. 

Snow calls out the best in us Rock Islanders. Why stay inside when you can go out, see your breath, and know you are alive? Walking up the hill to the coffee shop becomes an assault on Everest. We look up as the snow approaches a record. "Go for it," we say.

The British writer D. H. Lawrence once told a friend about being alive. "Whatever the unborn and the angels know,” he wrote, “they can never know the joy of being alive in the flesh."

That's the kind of days we have along the Upper Mississippi Valley.

Rock Island Lines with Roald Tweet is underwritten by Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois.