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Amish Snowbirds? Yes, even the Amish need a break from the cold. Between November and March, this tiny community is transformed...

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It's Here!!! Um...Now What?

Okay....this COULD be a once-in-a-generation snowstorm here in SW Ohio. As a weather buff in general, and a snow lover in particular, I have been waiting for a storm like this for a long time. They simply don't happen that often here.  We are in a "snow doughnut hole" where bad snowstorms either pass off to our SOUTH (believe it or not) or northwest.  SIGH.  But now it is our turn!  Um...but what do I do now that it is here?  Rachel and I are going to try to go out and buy some paint this morning before it gets too bad so we can spend the time being snowed in painting our bedroom.  If she doesn't get home from work soon, though, I have my doubts that the "paint store" will be open.  I suppose painting, though, is one thing to do. I just got done walking my dog and the snow is just coming down in shrapnel-like shards....a very fine, stinging powdery snow.  We are predicted to get up to 15 to 18 inches here by tomorrow.   Actually, rather than paint I think building a fire, playing Wii, reading, and having some good food sounds best!! Anyone else getting hammered by snow?

UPDATE ON BABY STEVEN:  the little trooper has surprised everyone with how quickly he has recovered.  He could even be going home today....I can't wait to go up and see him soon!

Minot On My Mind

north dakota 

Yesterday I posted about "micropolitan" areas, which are small, self-contained towns that really have most of the amenities of cities much larger.  This is because they are so isolated.  I mentioned a few of my favorite micropolitan areas yesterday. I did neglect to mention Dodge City and Garden City, Kansas.  Both twin towns on the prairie have almost anything you could need, because they are so far from Denver and Wichita.

All of this brings to mind a harrowing night almost three years ago.  I was touring North Dakota, giving talks about the Amish and Hutterites at libraries across the state. The trip was sponsored by the North Dakota Humanities Council who assured me that people in their state were "hardy" and perfectly willing to come out to a library to hear me talk in the dead of winter.  The Amish Cook column does appear in one ND paper, the Devils Lake Journal, which was the basis for the trip.  Another stop on the tour was Minot.  It was approaching dusk in Bismarck and I still had about 200 miles to go through dark, desolate prairie to make Minot.  I wanted to make Minot that night, so I'd have the whole next day to explore the city before my evening talk.   On the drive from Fargo to Bismarck, the radio began to broadcast increasingly ominious warnings about a snowstorm, perhaps even a blizzard, impacting parts of the state that night.

I've driven in snow and I'm usually fine.   I thought I could beat the blizzard to Minot anyway.  It was still light as we headed west and the sky didn't seem threatening. As Rachel and I approached Bismarck, though, the skies grew gray and snowflakes began to fall.   I thought we could still make Minot before the worst of it, so I decided to give it a shot. But just past the northern Bismarck city limits the snow swirled into a wind-whipped white-out.  Gusts roared out from the surrounding prairie buffeting our 4-wheel drive vehicle. It was terrifying.  We could not see beyond the hood of our car - if that far.   Attempting 200 miles of this suddenly seemed insane. I somehow guided my car into a U-turn and managed to get into the southbound lanes of US ROUTE 83 which connects Bismarck and Minot. Thankfully we weren't far out of Bismarck and once we made it back into the city, buildings blocked the snow and we could see to make it back to a hotel.  Had we been just a few miles farther north of the city when the blizzard hit, I am sure Rachel and I would have been one of hundreds of hardy North Dakotans that had to be rescued by the National Guard that night off Route 83.......

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