Winter woes & winter joys

by Monika Salvage
February 2018
Published in The Citizen

“Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation,” Sinclair Lewis writes, and I have a feeling many Upstate New York residents share this sentiment, especially given the freezing temperatures and stormy conditions we had to endure earlier in the year. Many people had to deal with frozen pipes, hazardous road conditions, storm damage, or loss of electricity that gave way to flooded basements, roads and fields due to the hasty snowmelt that the soil was unable to fully absorb.

These extreme weather conditions that seem to happen more frequently and actually quite regularly in recent years give us a chance (or even force us) to evaluate how prepared we are for possible emergencies. Do we have a plan if we were to lose power during a snow storm? Do we have a place to go or are we equipped to quite literally weather the storm in our home? Do we invest in alternative sources of power, such as a generator, or a heat source that does not require electricity, such as a kerosene heater? And do we know how to safely operate and fuel these devices? Do we have a supply of fresh water and food in the house that last us and our pets several days?

No one wants to think of these extreme scenarios, but we are not doing ourselves any favors by avoiding these topics. Just like children are taught in school that the family should discuss different ways to safely exit the home in case of a fire, we should also talk through other possible emergency situations and how we plan to handle them. A good source of information for emergency preparedness is the website of the American Red Cross It’s well worth the time, if for nothing else than peace of mind.

“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter,” John Burroughs claims. There is much beauty in winter and lots of fun to be had if you choose to enjoy what it has to offer. Many people love winter sports and the time spent outside in fresh air on snow or ice. For others, winter translates into a dreary time spent mostly inside while longing for the spring to arrive. But Upstate New York winters are here to stay, so we might as well make the best of it.

That was the thought behind launching the first IGNITE the Winter! Fest in Auburn in 2012 during my tenure as the chair of the Cayuga County’s Young Professionals group. The goal was to get people out of their houses and embrace the cold weather while having fun with live entertainment, food and artistic performances in Downtown Auburn. Now in its seventh year, the event is something people look forward to, cold and all. It’s coming up again Friday, March 2 from 5 to 8 pm, this year held at the Hilton Garden Inn. IGNITE the Winter! remains a celebration of the season with family-friendly activities, the popular ice-sculpture demonstration and the competitive chili cook-off that many local restaurants and organizations participate in.

We may or may not have seen the worst of this winter yet, but either way, it’s good to be prepared for the worst, while finding activities in our community that let us enjoy this wondrous season.

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