Sun shining, birds chirping, blue skies, and flowers beginning to break through the dirt, these last few days have been the type of days that Ohioans dream about during those dark, cold and snowy winter days.
I ran some errands on one of these delightful spring days and stopped at a local grocery store. While waiting in line to pay for my milk, fresh vegetables and bread, I overheard a conversation between the cashier and another person in line. The cashier commented about the day and the customer replied that it was beautiful outside and truly felt like spring.
The cashier replied that it was about time since the winter had been so awful. This made me think, if the weather is so awful in Ohio, what keeps most of us here?
As someone who lived in State College, Pennsylvania, for 14 years, I can tell you that Ohio weather is definitely different. In Pennsylvania, at least in the mountains where I was, fall comes early. In fact, fall comes around the end of August. The wind starts to turn chilly and it goes from tee shirts and shorts to jeans and hoodies almost overnight.
Then winter comes roaring in and while that might not be feet of snow, it does include the bitterly cold wind that whips down the sides of the bare mountains, shoots around corners and smacks you in the face with its biting and relentless chill. In State College, snow isn’t huge, since it is nestled in a mountain chain that protects it from most major winter storms. As winter begins to transition to spring in the mountains, the relentless wind is still present; however, now it brings the scent of flowers and the dampness of rain. These seasonal changes, though, are nothing like Ohio’s and after 14 years away, I’m learning to fall in love with the changes all over again.
Obviously, let’s start in the present moment. Spring has sprung like a beautiful crocus. Don’t get me wrong, I still think we might be in Fool’s Spring because I do see some snow flurries in the forecast. However, I am optimistically telling myself it’s spring. And when spring arrives in Ohio, it arrives like water to a man dying of thirst in the desert — at first, it’s a beautiful mirage that eventually solidifies into reality.
As the image solidifies, Ohio moves into summer. Summers in Ohio bring skies so blue they defy description, white puffy clouds that look like giant puffs of cotton candy, heat that causes the landscape to shimmer, and thunderstorms that remind us of the power of Mother Nature. Summer brings lazy dog days and evenings full of activities. It’s heat and light, but everything begins to fade as fall nears.
As the leaves begin to change, we receive one final flash of beauty. The deep reds, bright yellows, vibrant oranges, and every hue in between paint one magnificent picture before the weather begins to change. As a last-ditch effort to keep color around, vibrant orange pumpkins, yellow and green gourds, and jewel-toned Indian corn appear. Yet, despite our best efforts to fend off the inevitable, winter arrives.
The wind normally harkens the arrival of winter. It is that fierce, biting wind that howls at the door bringing with it a flurry of snowflakes. Yet, even in this bone-chilling cold, there are moments of beauty. The pure white of freshly fallen snow, early in the morning, as the pale winter sun begins its feeble rise will make you think that you are living in a postcard from long ago. When significant snowfall arrives and it strikes you that each snowflake in those 14 inches of snow is unique, it is hard not to marvel at the beauty of Mother Nature.
So while living in Ohio might not always be ideal and it may appear that winter lasts an inordinate amount of time compared to the rest of the seasons, there is beauty in every moment. And as we begin the cycle of seasons again, coming off two very hard years, I challenge you to find a moment of beauty in the nature that surrounds us. Whether it be the call of a robin on a spring evening, the rumble of distant thunder on a summer’s night, the crisp smell of the air in the fall, or the cold sting of snowflakes against your cheek on a winter’s evening, here in Ohio we are blessed with beauty in abundance and I hope you can be lucky enough to find it yourself.
Clemson is a member of the Trumbull County Farm Bureau and completed her Ph.D. at the Pennsylvania State University. She and her family farm in Mecca.