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Winter: Ohio's imperfect thread
The longest day of summer is the time to value the balance that comes with winter

Paul Gaston
Winter in Ohio needs to be treasured during summer in Ohio.
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In The Region:

For Northeast Ohio, summer is just beginning. But WKSU commentator Paul Gaston points us in another direction.

Gaston on the balance of Northeast Ohio

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            If you are among the seasonally savvy who celebrate the turn towards spring at the winter solstice, you may be aware that today turns us in a different direction. To be precise, at seven-oh-nine this evening the angle of the earth with respect to the sun will begin to grow wider.

And when that happens, winter will no longer be a distant memory of the past. It will once again lie ahead of us. It becomes inevitable.

            No, it’s not time to exchange our flip-flops for snow boots. Won’t be anytime soon. Thankfully. You can’t do much better than summer in Northeast Ohio. Long days. Cool evenings. But because we are so comfortable, midsummer offers the ideal opportunity to reach a balanced perspective on winter. If you’re shoveling snow or picking yourself up off the ice, you’re hardly in a philosophical mood. But on a calm summer evening? Why not?

The real winter's in store
           So, ignoring the warning about being careful what you wish for, I’m hoping we’ll get a real winter next go round. One with enough snow. Enough that we actually have to shovel it. A couple of nights when the thermometer flirts with zero. Cold deep enough and constant enough to freeze the ponds and skating rinks.  Perhaps a few snow days at the schools.

            It would be ungrateful not to smile at the memory of our mild winter last time around. Cities saved money on salt. Orthopedic surgeons probably saw fewer slip-and-fall victims. We all saved some money on heating costs. It was easier to get around. What’s not to like about that? Not much.

A thread of humility
 And yet. I think of the Middle Eastern weavers who deliberately introduce in their otherwise perfect rugs a less than perfect thread. That deliberate flaw draws attention to the excellence of the rug otherwise. It also reflects a pious admission that only God can achieve perfection.

          What does this have to do with Northeast Ohio? I imagine a kind of balance sheet. On the left side are the Cleveland Orchestra, our many minor league baseball teams, the Metroparks, the Towpath Trail, world-class hospitals, vintage wine growers, superlative art museums, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, brewers and brewpubs, a Great Lake and some other pretty great lakes. It’s a long list.

On the other side of the ledger there’s a single entry: winter. And my tag line is, “You do the math.”

            And that’s how I think of winter in these parts. As one liability to offset a long list of assets. As the imperfect thread in an otherwise remarkable carpet. As a reminder that because Northeast Ohio can be a great place to live anytime, we can put up with a challenge for a few months each year. A bumper sticker I saw the other day puts it this way for Cleveland: “You’ve got to be tough!” Well, nothing wrong with that.

Forget I said that 
            So this evening, while you are enjoying a cool lemonade swinging in your hammock under the buckeye tree, brace yourself for that ever so subtle shift, more a nudge than a lurch, as we begin the leisurely drift towards winter. Perhaps a real winter, this time.

            One final word. If we do get a real winter, one with slippery roads and steep heating bills and shortages of salt and cracked pipes and snow too deep for easy shoveling, please forget you ever heard this commentary.

Listener Comments:

Well said. I really enjoyed (and agreed with) this commentary.

Posted by: Frank Buck (Kirtland) on June 21, 2012 3:06AM
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