For the past few years, it has not been very cold here in the Ozarks. We have had a few cold spells and even some spells that were just plain nasty but winter has not lingered here. This year we have had snow on the ground pretty much for the past month. For us this is unusual.
I live just off I-44 pretty much between Springfield Missoui and St. Louis in a small town called Richland. It used to be a rail road town, more than self sufficient with hardware stores, grocery stores, a drug store, and even a movie theater. Most of that is now gone, only one grocery store, one hardware store, and one grocery store are left. Like so many of these little towns, Richland has suffered from stagnation. Several of the larger towns offer so much more in the way of shopping and excitement and the business has just drifted away from here.
The snow kind of softens the edges of empty buildings and unwalked sidewalks. Children get out and play in the snow giving the illusion that things are better here than they seem. For some reason, snow makes any one seem more approachable, maybe because everyone can complain about their heating bill. A lot of people still heat with wood here but even the highest stacks of wood are dwindling quickly.
You can see the wood smoke as you drive around, slightly darker than the homes that heat with gas. If you get out you can smell the familiar scent of blackened oak, maple and and chestnut. In 2007, we had a huge ice storm in this area. Most of us were without power for a week at least. The downed trees from then have made warm fires over the past years. However, I do not know of anyone who has not had to go out for more wood at least once this winter.
The snow and the cold weather is supposed to stay around for a while. The groundhog did not give us good news. I suppose we shall just have to wait old man winter out this year.