Weather fun to talk about, but is livelihood for many

Gaylord, Michigan, the town that I lived in the past 14 years before coming here, averages 136 inches of snow per year. The local schools had 19 (not a typo!) snow days between January and March this year. These are facts that seem to entertain people in Ohio, where I have found weather conversations are just as prevalent as they are in the “Snowbelt” of the Wolverine state.

I tell stories of getting stuck in driveways (this happened to me twice this past winter, which is below average). Or the time when the former publisher dealt with impassable roads by picking up employees via snowmobile. You know, the paper has to get out. I tell stories of it snowing in every month but July and August.

People like a good weather story, and I’m full of them from my time in the Great White North. But the truth is that there is an interesting relationship with snow in Northern Michigan. Because the area I come from is a four-season, tourism-based economy, it’s necessary for business. The snow days may have been a nightmare for parents and teachers, but they were great for the snowmobile and skiing seasons.

While it was socially acceptable to bemoan a snowstorm barreling upon us, it was not socially acceptable to continually gripe and complain about the weather. Embrace it because we need it. Embrace it and see the beauty of it. Embrace it because you’ll be happier than if you don’t, they say.

I see a similar thread in the weather here in Northwest Ohio. Seeing that I’ve started my career here in the throes of one of the rainiest springs in recent memory, with severe storms and tornadoes too close for comfort to boot, things have felt a little “extreme,” just as they did in Michigan.

Agriculture is the weather-dependent entity here, and all the rain completely stinks for area farmers. Just as with the snow in my past locale, the right kind of weather is imperative. Some rain, followed by a long stretch of nice days is needed for agricultural success. Even the new guy in town realizes that has been far from the case.

Dwight Clary, owner of Clary Farms in Kansas, summed it up best in a story last week in The Advertiser-Tribune.

“Northwest Ohio has been hit worse than other places,” Clary said. “In our location, we usually get 34 inches of rain per year, and we’ve already had 14 inches of rain just since April 1. That’s between 40 and 42 percent of our yearly rainfall just within our planting season, and our soils are too wet to plant.”

To me, thinking of the relationship between the weather in Michigan and that here in Ohio, makes me realize that, yes, weather is great conversation fodder everywhere. When someone complains about the Seneca County weather, I tell them about our crazy weather patterns in Michigan and the fact that Tiffin averages 109 inches less of snow than my past home did. It gets some smiles and laughs, and makes me feel a little tougher for bearing through it for so long.

But for some, whose livelihood is connected to a certain type of weather, it is much more than a conversation topic or a party trick.

Rooting for the type of weather that brings maximum success to our area is something I’ll be doing from this point forward.

Jeremy Speer is the publisher of The Advertiser-Tribune. He can be reached at jspeer@advertiser-tribune.com.

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