Winter comes to the Illinois prairie
I drove down to Champaign today for a great meeting with @RelUnrelated, and then back to BloNo in the face of advancing Winter. The turbulent wind and blowing snow made every mile a new visual feast, a joy of sheer, unendurable beauty. Clouds and snow do amazing things with sunlight. And on the prairie you can see clouds and storms far enough away to get a sense of how they move and fill space.
The wind was gusting across blacktop slicker than boiled flaxseed, with white-out visibility sometimes dropping to 100 feet. I lost count of the cars in the ditch; there were miles of emergency vehicles and tow trucks. One pickup had rolled over and landed on its wheels again. When I got back to Bloomington, I saw a minivan come down an on-ramp, frantically blowing its horn and trying to brake. Cars were able to move out of the way; it shot through the intersection and hit a traffic light pole, snapping it off at the base. It didn’t look as if anyone was hurt, which is a testament to modern car design.
Folks, let me just say this about adverse driving conditions. Please set your Celebrity Voice Imaginator to “Samuel L. Jackson” for the following Public Service Announcement:
“Hey, when snow crashes in and you suddenly can’t see where you’re going, turn on your G*D* flashers and slow the f* down! And that speed-limit sign don’t mean s* when the road is slick! This ain’t no race!”
- It is a little odd/worrisome that real Winter did not arrive until January 2. Cold Winters are important – they keep crop pests and invasive species down.
- I stopped at an off-ramp and shot this picture a short distance from the car. It was cold but the howling wind gave it teeth; unprotected in shirt sleeves you’d die in a half-hour. But yes, I did have full Winter gear in the car in case I needed it.
- I once knew a guy who died shooting a photograph. There are worse ends; lots of people die in office cubicles.
- My old Honda is only fair in the snow but it has good aerodynamics, which is a plus with high winds. And the tires are past their prime. But I notice something: when you turn on your flashers and slow down, people actually follow your example. You still get the odd vehicle – usually a big SUV or pickup, blasting by at the speed limit, only to decorate the ditch further down the road.