Published April 14, 2022

She's Not from Around Here: Spring Snow

Written by
Amy Allender
| The Dakotan
[Photo: @amy_allender]
[Photo: @amy_allender]

You know how some board games can force your pawn to return to start? Or at least make you to move back several spaces?

That’s spring snowstorms in Minot.

You can play the game. You can execute strategy — but in classic board games like Life, Sorry or Trouble it all comes down to luck. Roll the wrong number, pick the wrong card, spin the wrong space and your progress is lost.

When it comes right down to it, in these games you can almost expect this to happen. Maybe you even build it into your strategy. Then, against all odds, if you don’t end up moving back four spaces or being bumped back to start, it feels like a glorious miracle.

That’s spring snowstorms in Minot.

We’ve moved our clocks, taken the plastic off the windows and put up the blackout curtains in our kids’ rooms. We’ve ventured out in short sleeves. Some of us (me) have even moved the snow pants into storage. We’ve done all the things that indicate spring has officially arrived.

Yet, here we are.

Just because you know a “return to start” is highly likely in those old games, doesn’t make it any less frustrating. Likewise, just because we know a spring snow is almost always the reality, doesn’t make it less jarring.

Maybe after you’ve lived here long enough spring snow becomes part of the yearly rhythm.

I’m not from around here, so no matter how many springs require me to get the shovel back out, it will never — I repeat never — be part of my rhythm. And let’s not forget, we haven’t just faced spring snow — we’ve seen a full-blown April blizzard.

When I heard that up to 30” of snow may fall and the high on Easter is 30˚, you can bet your bonnet I had a hard time taking it in stride. The spring snow is like a maniacal jack-in-the-box. You know it will eventually pop up, and it startles you every time. Will it be prom weekend? Easter? Mother’s Day? Or — God forbid — Memorial Day? Just a dusting? A blizzard? We just never know.

What I do know is that something especially strange happens when a spring snowstorm comes. As I told you several weeks ago — when the Big Thaw hits, folks in North Dakota change. We become new people. People who insist the winter was mild (even if it wasn’t) and radiate positivity. The first Big Thaw sets our collective sights on summer and we don’t look back. The extra hours of sun seem to erase any displeasure we felt toward winter as we see ourselves on the precipice of sunflower season.

After the Big Thaw, a snow storm sends us back to the proverbial Start space.

My head is often so filled with spring that I become incredibly flustered when snow intrudes on my warm-weather mentality.

What should I have in the kitchen? What will I do if the kids can’t leave the house for two days? Where are my mittens? Do I need groceries? Is there a can of cream of mushroom soup in the pantry?

Whether it’s strictly necessary or not, nothing seems to compel those of us in Hot Dish Territory to make a Walmart or Target run quite like an impending blizzard. I can’t fully explain it, but it’s true. Never do I want to go to Walmart or Target as badly as the day before or day of a blizzard.

I’m not the only one. Reliable sources tell me Walmart completely ran out of carts on Tuesday. The self checkout line at Target extended into the beauty section. And, according to a fellow military spouse, the checkout line at the commissary on base wrapped completely around the store — all the way back to produce.

[Photo: @amy_allender]

What a time to be alive in North Dakota.

Although an April blizzard can send me reeling, it doesn’t snuff out my spring spirit. And it shouldn’t snuff our yours either. The old saying holds true — spring snow never stays. At least, I think that’s a saying. I hear a lot of locals say it. This one, no matter how huge, won’t last either. So stay in, pop some popcorn, make a hot dish, throw an extra blanket on the bed, and ride it out. Just think of all the conversations you’ll be able to have about the weather when this is done. But promise me you’ll resist the urge to run out to Walmart until the roads are clear.

Do you have an observation that is uniquely Dakotan or Minot? I’d love to hear from you. Reach me on Instagram @amy_allender or by email at amy.allender@mydakotan.com

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