By the time this column appears in print, we’ll either be tired of shoveling or cynical about weather forecasters.
No surprise. That’s how October in Colorado works.
My friends from warmer climes often do a double take when they hear that a Front Range “snow season” runs from October to May. But even those words don’t really capture the true experience. The symbol of those eight months isn’t a snow shovel, but a pair of dice. You listen to the forecasts, buy out the bread and milk at the grocery stores (and somehow it’s always the bread and milk) and then roll ‘em.
Sometimes we laugh. Sometimes the big Snowmageddon forecasts produce nothing but a dusting of flakes and an ironic “I survived” post on social media.
Other times, it’s no laughing matter.
I grew up here. I remember a lot of Halloweens spent with a winter coat pulled over a truly awesome costume. (Hercules just doesn’t look the same when he’s bundled up against the cold.) But the year that really drove it home for me was 1997, when we got slammed by a late-October blizzard right before the Broncos were due to leave town for a game in Buffalo.
In those John Elway days, every bit of Bronco news was Serious Business. And so, in the midst of relentlessly raging snow and cars stacking up on Peña Boulevard, broadcasters would break in with the latest escapades. Kicker Jason Elam caught a ride to team headquarters with a group of fans. Safety Steve Atwater joined the rest of the team by snowmobile. Somehow, incredibly, everyone got out of town, stumbled into their hotel at 1 a.m. in the morning, and then staggered their way through an overtime win that afternoon.
So yeah. We know. Feast or famine. Snow or “Snow big deal.”
And the thing is, we have to be ready for both. Like Schrödinger’s cat, the fabled “Chance of Snow” isn’t really alive or dead until we open the box and find out.
But then, isn’t that how we live our lives anyway?
We like to think we’ve minimized uncertainty. We make plans, we check forecasts, we schedule out our day. Everything’s in control.
Until it’s not.
The reminders, inevitably, come in. Sometimes as small as the storm that cancels a birthday picnic in the park. Sometimes as big as the injury or illness that transforms a lifetime.
We may have planned a route. But we’re not the ones driving the car.
So what do we do?
First, be aware. Always. Both in the moment-by-moment “situational awareness” sense and the bigger-picture sense of seeing what’s out there, not just what you want to see. Not only will that keep you ready – well, readier – for the unexpected, but it also reminds you of how much great stuff there is to see around you and how many situations your gifts and talents might be able to improve.
Second, stick together. I stress this a lot, maybe more than anything else I’ve ever written in this column. But it’s that important. Whether it’s shoveling our neighbor’s walks or standing up for our neighbors’ needs, we depend on each other. It’s how we weather a crisis or enhance a celebration.
We’re not going to see everything. But with eyes open and hands clasped, just maybe we can see enough.
Even in a stormy October.