Russ Kent column: What happened to the Ohio winters I used to enjoy?


Russ Kent - Galion Inquirer



In the past, I occasionally pondered moving to a warmer climate. But I liked the fact that Ohio had four unique seasons.

Winter was cold and white.

Spring was a transition period, with rain and greening grass and color breaking out in flowerbeds and trees on a daily basis. I love lightning and thunder, and spring used to be prime time in Ohio for thunderstorms.

Summer was a time for vacations and beaches and golf.

Fall also was a transition season, with the leaves on trees changing colors and the start of the football season and sometimes a hint of the winter to come. It’s my favorite time of year. In fact, two of my favorite memories growing up happened in the fall. One was my first real kiss, in an alley off Heise Park. It was and always will be special. The second was a few years later. I remember laying on my back beneath a tree — among the fallen acorns, Buckeyes and leaves in Heise Park — by the football field. My head was on the lap of my girlfriend. It was a couple hours before I had to play a football game. And we were just resting and relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.

Still, my favorite season seemed to change from decade to decade. Growing up it was the summer, because there was no school and my family always took a nice vacation … to New England, to the Williamsburg area, fishing in Canada and in later years to the Myrtle Beach area. And, I wasn’t working a full-time job. For the past three years, I’ve not taken a real vacation. There doesn’t seem to be time.

Spring was a favorite at times. It used to signal the end of winter, and there is nothing better than the smell of a lilac tree or fresh cut grass.

I already shared my feelings of autumn in Ohio. I’m also an earth tones kind of guy. My house is full of the colors of fall, lots of brown, and I think I look good in rust-colored shirts.

Winter was even a favorite at times. Probably in my teen years. I remember sledding on a big hill somewhere behind the old Neff Brothers Market, and at the country club off County Line Road, and a couple times at Valley View. I remember skating at a pond, maybe off Evans Drive. Well, I remember trying to skate. For some reason I never acquired that skill. Cold weather has never bothered me. It was invigoration. But as I age, the cold weather is more of an irritant that it is something that gets me excited.

Unfortunately, now the seasons all seem to run together. Summers seem to be a little warmer, spring and fall seem a lot warmer and I have no idea what the heck happened to winter?

There is less distinction between the seasons every year.

This year’s winter is unlike any I can remember. The Galion area had a high near 70 Saturday. For much of the last two weeks I have been wearing shorts and shoes with no socks when I venture outside. In the middle of the night, I’m wearing no shoes outside while Beatrix does her business. I admit, I stay on the sidewalk, because I hate mud.

Oh, that mud! This year there is more mud than ever.

If this is the new January in Ohio, I’m not a fan.

I know global warning or climate change is real. We can argue about the cause, but it is happening. I don’t like that either.

I graduated in 1978 from Galion High School. For thirty-some years I spent Friday nights watching, playing or covering football games. And during that time, there was almost always one Friday night each year that involved snow. At least that’s how I remember it.

One day, former Colonel Crawford football coach Mike Cauley inviting me into the office to watch video of a Saturday afternoon Eagles’ game played somewhere near Cleveland, Solon perhaps. It was definitely in Ohio’s snow belt. It started snowing shortly before the game, and by the time the fourth quarter arrived, there was perhaps a foot of snow on the ground. I remember watching a punt, where the ball didn’t bounce when it landed. It stuck in the snow.

I miss snow. I don’t miss driving in it or shoveling it. But I miss the look of fresh-fallen snow. For years, I’ve sought out flowing creeks in the winter where I could get the perfect photo of clear water running through a creek bed covered with snow. The trees are white, the ground is white, and the stream is dark and gurgling.

I’m still looking. I want to hang that photo in my living room.

But I’ve never found that perfect scene. And I doubt I ever will.

Ohio now has just two seasons — fall, winter and spring are pretty much the same, with a little variance in temperature. And there is summer.

Who knows? We could get hammered in February and March this year by old man winter. But I’m guessing not. There may be a few cold spells, but I think there will be no ‘true winter’ before warmer weather arrives for good.

If I had moved to Florida, or Arizona or San Diego or Georgia or South Carolina, I feared I would miss the change of seasons.

I’ve changed my thinking. With no winter in Ohio anymore, the spring and fall are not as much fun. They’re all dreary, and filled with gray and mud.

I’m ready to move south.

Who’s with me?

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Russ Kent

Galion Inquirer

Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email him at rkent@aimmediamidwest.com

Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email him at rkent@aimmediamidwest.com