Step Carefully Tuesday, Feb 25 2014 

With the exception of my philtrum, (That’s the groove between the nose and lip. I just wanted to use that word because it sounds cool.), every inch of me is bruised and hurting. I fell last night and have more colorful spots on me than the tattooed lady at the circus my husband likes to talk about.

The snowplows pushed snow up to the top of our mailboxes on the street, which we have to step up on to reach the box. A brief thaw and refreeze turned the mound into solid ice. I took one step up and fell right down to the street with a thud.

It will be interesting to see the statistics at the end of the season on weather-related injuries. We’ve had so much cold and snow here in the Midwest; I’d be surprised if the emergency rooms aren’t keeping unusually busy with sprains, strains, lacerations, and breaks due to falls and heart attacks from shoveling.

I’m really good at giving advice that I don’t take but here are a few things we can keep in mind the rest of this winter:

  • Keep our hands out of our pockets. We can’t brace ourselves, or even balance very well, if our hands aren’t available.
  • Take small steps. It’s easier to recover from a slip if are feet are closer together.
  • Dress appropriately. At least my jacket offered some padding, and if I had to remain on the ground for a while, I wouldn’t be chilled.
  • Hold on to the handrails. When walking up and down stairways, the railings can prevent us from going all the way down should we slip.
  • Walk cautiously. My fall is a reminder to slow down and step carefully. If you don’t, nature will force you to do so. I’m not moving very quickly today.

And here are a few suggestions when driving:

  • Drive slowly enough for conditions.
  • Keep space between vehicles.
  • Use headlights.
  • Brake before turning.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

No Need for Groundhogs Tuesday, Feb 4 2014 


Here in the Midwest, we didn’t need a rodent to tell us we have six more weeks of winter ahead of us. Regardless of the groundhog seeing his shadow, we are fully aware of the mounds of snow around us and the alternating cold and snowy days ahead in the forecast.

The news is buzzing with salt shortages, record-breaking snow day closings at schools, and traffic accidents due to the weather. But there is good in everything, even in these conditions.

Personally, I like the brightness of the snow. There appears to be so much more light streaming through the windows as the sun reflects on the snow. And when outside, we are wearing sunglasses almost as often as during the summer.

Here are a few other positives about this winter weather:

  • Hot showers, hot drinks, and fluffy blankets are so much more enjoyable.
  • Snow resorts don’t have to make snow. The real stuff is here in abundance.
  • Snow removal and heating repair employees are banking a lot of overtime.
  • No need to hurry home from running errands. That ice cream in the trunk isn’t going to melt.
  • We get to wear beautiful scarves, sweaters, and boots.
  • Not enough space in the refrigerator? We can just set those cold drinks outside the door.
  • We’ve gotten our money’s worth out of our winter wear.
  • Snow plow sales are up.
  • Schools and some businesses have closed due to blizzard and subzero conditions. This has offered a lot of us days to enjoy family and the homes we work so hard to maintain.
  • Kids are getting a lot of exercise and practice building snow-people and forts.
  • Cuddling keeps us warm and happy.
  • Snow makes a good surface for identifying animal tracks.
  • Artists are not lacking in material for snow sculptures.
  • The farmers’ fields will have plenty of moisture for planting in the spring.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

What Color is Your Snow? Monday, Feb 4 2013 

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We finally have snow in the Chicago area. The kids are happy; drivers not so much.

We know not to eat yellow snow but it may not be a good idea to catch even fresh flakes falling from the sky on your tongue. Snowflakes can pick up specks of dust and other pollution along their descent. Sometimes enough is accumulated that changes the color of the snow from white to grey or even pink.

Snowflakes require a cycle of nature beginning with the evaporation of water from rivers, lakes and oceans. When temperatures drop to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below, the moisture forms into tiny ice crystals the size of dust. As the crystals fall, they connect with other crystals forming snowflakes. The more crystals that join together, the bigger the flake.

According to The National Snow and Ice Data Center, snow and ice usually appear white because visible light is white. Most natural materials absorb some sunlight, but snow reflects most of it creating that white appearance.

When snow appears blue, purple, or even pink it is a result of either light waves or foreign particles. Snow that looks blue is due to light waves scattered by the ice grains in the snow. When falling crystals gather algae, dust, and other foreign particles, the crystals pick up the color of the substance.

Here are a few other interesting facts about snow.

  • Snowflakes usually have six sides
  • Identical snowflakes are rare but possible
  • Most of the volume of a snow layer consists of air
  • Nearly every location in the United States has seen snowfall

©2013 Mary K. Doyle

(Information from The National Snow and Ice Data Center,

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