I’m blogging to you from deep in the heart of…Northwest Ohio. Ohio? What happened to Texas? I’ve been up here in the land of sensible values since last summer, but I have a good excuse: an odd need to eat and pay bills. So when the chance came up to do a long-term consulting project up here in Flag City and thus end a drought of work, I said “Duh…of course.”
I’ve lived in Texas since 1971, so to suddenly relocate (even temporarily) to a more northern clime is a bit of a shock to the system. To keep this in perspective though, my formative teenage years were spent in the suburbs of Chicago, so this cowboy is no stranger to cold northern winters. But that was more years ago than I’ll admit to in this public forum, so suffice to say I’m out of winter-shape, so to speak.
I’ve written fondly of winter and missing seasons before, so this opportunity has certain upsides: seasons, smaller town, slower pace of life, and those damn practical Midwestern values. On the other hand, it’s still the culturally starved Midwest where corn and babies seem to occupy most minds. What culture one enjoys up here is either imported or traveled to…there just isn’t much here. But on the balance of things, I’ve enjoyed a simpler, more hassle-free life in my temporary Ohio digs.
One pleasant surprise has been the close proximity of several interesting getaways. You can get out of or across Ohio by car within a relatively short time. It takes part of two days to traverse Texas. Chicago and it’s cosmopolitan influences of the Art Institute and nightclubs is a brief four hours away. Cleveland and it’s Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame a couple hours. The blue hills of Kentucky are a little more than four hours due south. And for a spicier venture, Windsor, Canada and its blue collar party atmosphere beckon complete with (legal) Cuban cigars and potent beers. I don’t smoke cigars, but I’ll inhale those non-export high-alcohol-content Canadian beers any day.
I do travel back to Houston occasionally, and between the humidity (who wants to remember that?) and the congestion (who wants to deal with that?), it’s always a shock to the system. At the end of these back-travel weeks, I’m somewhat stressed and looking forward to returning where the corn sways slowly in the wind and the search for intellectually based culture continues. Of course, that’s not during the winter, where most of my time now is spent trying to keep the damn wind from sending its icy probes into every exposed skin pore. I love snow, and the temperature hasn’t been too bad, but the wind. Oh lordy the wind.
Unfortunately, winter in northwest Ohio is mostly about cold and wind, and seldom about snow. Tolerating frigid temperatures is always more pleasant when the calmness and serenity of a white, wintry blanket greets the eyes, but alas: this winter’s been unusually cruel and we’ve haven’t been blessed with much snow to mitigate the depressive gray of a snowless winter scene. But now spring is around the corner, with green images and hiking opportunities, and sun. I’ll miss what little snow we’ve had, but I won’t miss the wind.
Locals tell me we’re close enough to Lake Erie to stay under cloud cover for most of the winter in our attempt to emulate Seattle. Some of my co-workers even admit to taking occasional winter drives south a few hours where the sunshine is more frequent this time of year. I haven’t felt that dark side of winter yet, but the few days the sun does manage to break through the clouds it feels like a celestial event worth celebrating. Another difference between Ohio and Texas regarding the sun must have to do with sun angles. In Texas I couldn’t go outside without sunglasses, whereas up here it seems less of an issue. Maybe it’s the glare from all the concrete and glass that defines Houston, or maybe the air pollution down there reflects the sun rays just enough to enhance the glare. Either way, it’s a moot point up here right now for sunglasses are the last accessory I need to remember.
I’ll be up here through this year with an option to continue part-time for another year. I’m getting acclimated to this slower pace of life, and certainly relishing the seasonal changes, so who knows: maybe this cowboy might have to trade in them boots for snowshoes and heavy blankets.