My Winter Wonderland: A Study in Contrasts

My Winter Wonderland is a bit different from that of many people: I start the winter in Arizona, and this year I am finishing it up a little too early in Illinois. Winter in Illinois has gone on forever this year and shows no signs of letting up even now. For the last five years I’ve spent three months of the winter in the Phoenix area where my children and grandchildren live. The rest of the year I spend in a small town in west central Illinois, a place that is my home. To see the contrast you only have to look as far as the photos.

AZ sign

Here I’m heading to Arizona. As you can see, we’re entering a place of lots of sand, small shrubs, mountains, and blue skies. You seldom have to guess much about the weather for tomorrow. Back in Illinois, of course, we’ve had the worst winter in 68 years. When I’m in Arizona, Illinois is in a parallel universe that only exists on the evening news.

The evening skies are gorgeous in Arizona because of the dust in the air. Here are two sunsets and the view from a restaurant called The Watershed in Tempe.

130South Mountain144


This is the view as you walk out the door in the morning and the skies are their usual blue, the streets are clean with no potholes, your car doesn’t have salt rust, and everything is carefully landscaped.

Phoenix rush hour

The freeways are a bit challenging and you seldom end up behind drivers doing 20 mph unless you are driving during Rush Hour.


Barrett Tball055

Then there are winter sports. Arizona is a land of four different climates. In Phoenix, winter sports may be T-ball and golf in January and February, and my grandkids take full advantage of these programs.


Wade and Ryan on slopes

Farther north, snow boarding and skiing are going on at the same time.




It’s quite an existence in a valley surrounded by mountains where the reality of weather in the Midwest is nonexistent.

Back to Illinois, only this sign obviously was not from the winter.

Welcome IL

This is what I missed this year in Illinois while I was gone:

blizzard1 blizzard2

Coming back a bit too early, the photos below were the scenes from my front porch and across the street at my neighbor’s. We had about 18 inches of snow on the ground. One day we had thunderstorms at 3 a.m., rain all morning, fog for two hours, sunshine, and yet more snow. My dad used to say you build great character living in the Midwest from the weather alone.

Dec 7 07a
winter 2014

The fire hydrant in my front yard was up to its little hat in snow when I returned. But after the day described above, the snow looked more like sledding

This is a winter sport in Illinois, especially since the schools missed record numbers of snow days and the kids were out on the slopes.

2-Hour-Delay (1)

Will my teaching friends who are retiring at the end of the year have to teach until July to make all of those lost days up?


So, my Winter Wonderland is certainly a study in contrasts. But soon the snow will melt, my tulips will come up through the last remaining piles of white, and the gingko tree in my yard will turn a beautiful green until fall when it will be gold. Could be I have the best of both worlds.

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