North into Winter

Leaving Longboat Key before dawn yesterday morning, winter was already knocking on the door; it was 45 degrees F in southwest Florida.  As sunrise commenced near Tampa, flocks of wood storks streamed across the orange sherbet sky while farther north, near Ocala, sandhill cranes foraged in the chilly morning air.

Though sunny skies prevailed all the way to Chattanooga, the temperature remained near freezing for the rest of the day.  High, wispy clouds stretched above the north Georgia mountains and, west of Chattanooga, a gray overcast shrouded the Cumberland Plateau, signaling the change to come.  Indeed, we stopped in Nashville, Tennessee, for the night, where snow was expected by morning; unfortunately, we received sleet and freezing rain, coating our vehicle with ice.

Heading north from Nashville, we encountered the snow near Clarksville, where plows seemed to be out of service; crawling along on the snow-packed Interstate, we eventually reached clear pavement south of Paducah, Kentucky.  From then on, our journey through the snowy landscape was unimpaired and we reached Columbia my mid afternoon.  To be honest, after almost two weeks in Florida, I was glad to be back in the American Heartland, where four honest seasons unfold; I'll take my summer heat with the glorious colors of autumn, the invigorating snowstorms of winter and the slow, uneven recovery of spring.