We have to help each other in time of need

Last Saturday was a wonderful day. As I sat by my computer, it looked like spring—cloudy and threatening to rain.
The daffodils in my patio garden had popped up, and their bright green shoots already were three inches tall. It seemed spring was on the way. But I knew better!
What seemed like a spring day was not threatening rain, but snow.
The Weather Channel predicted an astonishing four to seven inches of snowfall, with brisk winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour and wind chills below zero F. This was an unusual forecast for central Kansas.
When I grew up in upstate New York, we had “real winters” with huge accumulations of lake effect snow. So I know the beauty of snow. And, also, the tragedy of snow.
I loved to be stormed in. Sometimes the school bus couldn’t run for two or three days at a time. We sat around the warm pot-bellied stove reading and playing games, and eating soul-warming soups and scrumptious desserts.
But I also understood the tragedy of snow at an early age. On Jan. 1, 1939, my cousin, Milford Widrick, and two other young men died in a snowstorm.
In his book “The Other Side of the Hill,” Harold Samson tells the story of their deaths. While driving on Tug Hill, the young men “were overtaken by a very bad wind and snow storm.” Travel became impossible, and they had to stay in the car overnight.
During the night, the drifting snow completely covered their car. The next day when they were found—all three were dead.
That kind of snow makes me think of the fabled “Year without a Summer.” In 1816, the whole northeast was impacted by a violent volcano eruption in the Dutch East Indies. Ash blocked out the sun, causing temperatures to fall.
According to Madelene Bernat in “Town of Harrisburg—A History,” Lewis County in New York had ankle deep snow on June 6.
On Aug. 4, says Bernat, “Froze last night. The corn and vine crops were ruined.” On Oct. 17, eight inches of snow fell, ruining what was left of the corn and wheat crops.
Because of the terrible weather, poor people would have starved to death without help.
Snow like that requires co-operation. It takes neighbourliness to live in the North Country. People have to take care of each other when the snow gets deep. They always help a stranded driver. Lives are at stake.
I know. We lived on a well-travelled road and near our house, a sweep of wind often made the road impassable. So we had lots of stranded travellers. When they left, sometimes after several days of being snowed in, they always thanked us profusely for saving their lives.
Each year we are reminded that while weather can be beautiful, it also can be devastating. Once again in 2003, terrible snowstorms, floods, mudslides, and tornados show us how much we need each other.
Even in the 21st century, neighbourliness is a necessity.
Think about how you can be a neighbour today to someone in crisis next door or across the country. And trust that when you need them, neighbours will be there for you.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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