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A Love Letter to Snow

Posted on 2/9/2022
by the Pottawattamie Conservation team
Roses are red. Violets are blue. This is for you, Snow. We love you. <3

Dear Snow,

Out of all the weather phenomena we experience here in Southwestern Iowa, your job may be one of the hardest. Unlike the story of Goldilocks, there doesn’t seem to be a “just right” amount of snow for us humans’ liking, who tend to have a love or hate relationship with you. Well, we’re here to say we love you, Snow, and we miss you, too. Here’s why:

Yes, your presence can mean challenging driving conditions, the shoveling of driveways, and (perceived) fewer options for doing things outdoors, but it also plays a vital role in regulating temperature. Balance is key to maintaining our environment - colder weather and snow in winter are required to sustain the things many of us love in the warmer months, including weather, plants, wildlife, and other seasonal recreation opportunities like fishing, kayaking, snowshoeing, skiing, and more.

 

 

When temperatures do fluctuate, as they have very recently (hello 60-degree days!?), snow cover helps discourage plants from budding or growing too early. Bud bursts are becoming more common as warm stretches show up throughout winter, triggering trees to start preparing canopy growth that’s killed off when the next cold front comes through. Scenarios like this harm and can even kill trees and vegetation and raise prices of some produce, but snow helps communicate to plants that the time’s not quite right even when temperatures indicate otherwise.

 

 

You protect small animals and plants from harsh winter weather by providing cover from the elements. Subnivean zone tunnels are created by critters like moles, mice, and shrews that create winter wonderland homes beneath the snow, using them for travel and protection from predators. Here, grass, seeds, leaves, insects, and more are left untouched and free for the taking. Even when temperatures drop below freezing, the subnivean zone remains a balmy 32 degrees.

 

 

Living in the Midwest, most of us are familiar with the impacts of drought because of our strong farming traditions and ties. Crops and native plants can start on the right “root” when there’s enough snowfall, even during a year with less than favorable spring, summer, and fall precipitation. And while rain is another important form of precipitation, rain instead of snow in the winter can have damaging effects on plants, wildlife, and even road conditions when freezing overnight temperatures turn everything into a sheet of ice. Our communities need water too, of course, which snowfall supports by helping maintain and recharge the watersheds we depend on.

 

 

Last but definitely not least, you’re just plain beautiful! There’s nothing quite like a walk in the woods when everything around is covered in a fluffy, fresh layer of snow. Or the magical perfection of a snowflake captured up close? Breathtaking. "Stillness is the flower of winter, all hope waits beneath a blanket of white." — Unknown

 

 

Love, 

Pottawattamie Conservation

 

Especially when the weather takes a warm turn as it has recently, we can’t help thinking about our friend Snow as we watch it all melt away. We hope this love letter helps you think about the sometimes uncomfortable and inconvenient changes winter brings in a new light - and that it might even inspire some of you to do your snow dance!

 

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