When she walks by.
Photo: Preston Folkestad
The last few months have been weighing heavily upon the shoulders for many of us. In February, I sat at the front of a line of cars on I-35 who were waiting for a semi to be towed off both northbound lanes. The wind came so directly from the west that my Caravan was pushed on the ice while I was in park. This was my second blizzard on the road in 2019. Hymn 101 by Joe Pug appears on several of my playlists. No truer words echoed through those factory Dodge speakers than “I’ve come to test the timber of my heart.” I offer no real purpose in this post other than reflection.
My Ozarks blood will never be used to the winter climate in Iowa. I get that honest. The first time my dad visited Iowa during winter its was -20. The expression on his face after escaping the wind outside matched the permanent expression I’d adopted that winter. Humidity will always be my hell on earth, but sometimes this cold hurts the soul.
To the best of my knowledge, 2019 is the first time I’ve experienced a “Polar Vortex.” I can’t much say I enjoyed it. Sometimes when I walk in the door, my son wraps himself around my leg, fully intending for me to carry him. The cold this winter clung to a person in the same way. Even once inside, you still had a shroud of cold surrounding you for a few minutes. I imagined the cold as a man. His eyes were full of sorrow but you could see the pride of someone who once was. His handshake was entirely empty yet unforgettable and cold.
I spent more on hotels this year than ever before in my years of music and cancelled more than ever. It caused some financial hits, and I learned a lot. I learned that my determination might be a little unwise at times. Sometimes the Minnesota State Patrol shuts down the interstate and it’s probably for the best. I met a lot of strangers, whose stories may come out in some form, but for now have served as inspiration to me. I’ve been trying to more frequently enjoy others joy. Hearing strangers speak of their family or accomplishments, they have this sort of genuine smile. I’m nobody when I’m on the road, and I like that. I get to just be some guy who got stuck while traveling for work. I keep finding myself sitting next to folks who open up, lay it all out, talking to a stranger. There’s simply no way to capture that in an image, as far as I can tell. It’s one of the most unique feelings.
Spring seems to be tempting us this week. Nobody seems to mind. Hopefully, Old Man Winter is leaving for a few months to explore lands far way. Far away from any interstate I may find myself on. Perhaps we are walking away from the winter that we hold all the winters of the rest of our lives against. Maybe that’s the consolation prize.
“It’s cold, but it ain’t as cold as it was in ’19.”