The Best of Chippewa Falls Volume One's guide to the riverside city » Presented by Mason Companies, Leinie Lodge, Northwestern Bank, and Go Chippewa Falls

The Rear End

What the Snow Doesn’t Care About

some thoughts for my midwestern friends and acquaintances

Mike Paulus, design by Serena Wagner |

Sitting by a church door, looking out at the dark parking lot, we are waiting for people to arrive. So we can open the door and let them inside. This lady and I are here for different reasons. She’s got her group, and I’ve got mine. 

“I hope the snow decides to hold off a while longer,” this lady says. Like snow makes decisions. Like the sky does things on purpose. Like grey clouds dump ice on our streets and our houses because they’re angry at us.

I don’t know this lady, not from Adam, so I keep those thoughts to myself, and I agree. Politely.

“It tried,” I say. “A few weeks back. It didn’t stick, but the snow tried to come.”

“It sure did, that’s right,” she says. “That’s right.”

“I like autumn,” I say. “I’d like more of it.”

“Me too,” she says and that’s that. She opens the door for her people and leads them down the hallway. I sit in my chair and I wait. 

Eventually, we all have our meetings and we all go home. The weather is mentioned again. Over and over. Everyone has opinions. We can all agree that it’s cold outside. 

We all know it’s on the way, snow. And it doesn’t care about our conversations. It doesn’t care what we think. Snow doesn’t care about anything. 

When the snow comes, our lives shift over. We must make time for coats and hats and boots and mittens. We gotta shovel. We gotta drive safe. Happens every year.

In our town, snow is such an imposing force, bringing with it change after change. How can such a thing not have a personality? Why wouldn’t it spend a little time thinking about you? You think about it. You think about it all the time. Can we not expect a little common courtesy? From the snow?

No, we cannot. The snow doesn’t care about us. 

You can talk about it all you like. Complain if you must. Make jokes. Offer sage advice on rooftop ice prevention to those willing to listen. You can sink beneath gauzy blankets of depression, murmuring only to yourself. You can mourn the fading daylight. 

But the snow outside still doesn’t care about you.

However. That said. There are people who care about you. People who want to know that you’re OK. And people who feel just as you feel. 

One thing about living in a place like this, a place where, come November, the snow and the cold and the dark all crowd together, shoulder to shoulder like silent giants, one thing about all that – we’re all in it together. Even if it’s hard for you to see me, squirreled away as we might be, here we are. Together.

And we care about each other. It’s hard for some, but we care. 

I know that snow can be fun. For much of the year, it makes me really happy. It gives the city something to rally around, and on hard days, against

But that’s me. I understand that winter might be hard for you. Or it might be hard for the people you love. And that’s hard too. 

One time I read a poem about a lady in Illinois. She opened her backdoor in the cold, cold wintertime to dump a bucket of glass bottles into a metal trash can. What an awful noise. I could hear it ring out, screeching like a monster into the quiet night sky. I could hear it echo across the rooftops and around the hot chimneys. Not a good noise. 

But a reminder. A reminder that we are not alone.