A mid-April snow is an interesting thing. You can almost touch the clouds of complaint coming from the slush-dampened, salt-stained residents of the Midwest as their words hit the cold air.
“Why isn’t it summer yet?”
“It was sunny yesterday, how can it snow twelve hours later?”
“When am I moving to California?”
The laments are unceasing, and dominate 24-hour diners, grocery store check-out lines, and local morning news shows for days. This snow seems like just another source of blight on our rust-covered cities, like rivers on fire, grizzled steel workers in mid-day alcoholic’s bars, or empty faces on the street corners of emptying neighborhoods. This snow will do little but create more craters on side streets, bury any buds of spring, and keep the children of East Cleveland—of Riverside—of the South Side—in sardine-tin classrooms instead of on hallowed make-shift playgrounds.
But a mid-April snow is an interesting thing. There is something about the weather in the Midwest that suggests that Mother Nature has a secret affection for her children in the cities of rust and steel. She knows that these children of hers will not enjoy the sun-kissed, cicada-filled lives of the Carolinas; they will not experience the easy, pine-scented rains of the Northwest; they will not feel the warm sea-breeze of a New England summer. No, Mother Nature knows that her rusted children must be made of stronger, harsher material.
We, the varied brood of the Midwest, must learn to embrace all of the realities that the world has to offer us. We acknowledge Millionaire’s Row side-by-side with government housing projects; we enjoy emerald necklace parks along with industrial valleys with burning towers for wildflowers; we frequent youthful brewery-bars and dingy pubs in our unfading ethnic neighborhoods. We, as Midwesterners, as children of the Rust Belt, understand that everything new and hopeful stems from the decades-long decay that raises us up and defines us.
We are gifted with days of warmth and sun, embracing the reprieve, and learn to hope to flower alongside daffodils and to unfurl from our winter selves in tandem with oak trees. Then, Mother Nature, in her own dutiful way, reminds us that we are of stronger stuff than an easy spring. We muddle along our own path, stopping and starting all the way. We claw our way to a warmth that is taken for granted by those in more comfortable climates, with the knowledge that when we children of heavy industry and lake water reach fruition, we will know to appreciate the sun hot on our necks. A mid-April snow is an interesting thing.