Eat More Beef And Fear Snow LessEach winter since 1985...


January 23, 1994

Eat More Beef And Fear Snow Less

Each winter since 1985, when I moved from America's heartland to "America in Miniature," I've vented my frustrations with Maryland's snow-phobic citizens in a letter to the editor. The Sun's headline writer caught the gist of my message one year by labeling my missive: "Annual Insult From a Midwesterner." I've caught more than my share of grief from friends and co-workers . . . and I promised I wouldn't do it again.

But to quote Manuel, the harassed waiter on John Cleese's "Fawlty Towers," "is craaazy -- everyone is craaazy!" Snow does to Baltimoreans what a third rail does to track walkers -- it shocks them into insensibility and irrational behavior. Schools close with only the threat of flakes in the air. The Beltway's normally maniac drivers turn into panic-stricken pussycats clutching the wheel like country grannies lost in a Manhattan traffic jam. Office workers spend the entire day gazing out windows finding dubious comfort in shared stories of past bouts with the dreaded White Plague. Radio and TV stations go into their "snow alert" mode: "Let's go to our reporter on the scene in Hagerstown." . . . "Yes Sally, we've spotted some flakes and they appear to be blowing in an easterly direction so Baltimore drivers should abandon their cars now!"

I can't figure it out. I've heard all the excuses, but none of them wash:

* "We're not used to snow around here." Yes, you are. I've lived here almost nine years and we've gotten several major and minor snow storms every year. How much more practice do you need 'til you get it right?

* "We aren't equipped to handle the snow the way you are in the Midwest." Actually, I've been very impressed with the snow-fighting efforts the city, counties and state provide. What you lack in hardware (snow plows), you make up for with software (salt). The rotted underbody of my truck is testament to that.

* "The snow around here is different. We get more ice." I don't buy that. Snow is snow and ice is ice, no matter where you live. Hearty Midwesterners handle both with equal aplomb.

So, what's up? Why do Midwesterners brush off snowstorms and even blizzards as a minor inconvenience but Baltimoreans get dizzy and irrational at the sight of a few flakes? I can't think of any basic differences between us but diet. That's it. If folks around here would just stop eating all them crabs and develop a taste for beef, potatoes, corn and milk, they'd all turn into Midwestern-like Vikings for whom batting Mother Na

ture's winter wars is always a one-sided victory, not a yearly exercise in passive defeat.

Thomas R. Margenau


Litter Works

Loved your article on cat litter. I thought everyone knew this. I buy cat litter only for the sidewalk, but I don't wait until a threat of snow to buy it. Although I have a cat, he's an al fresco kind of guy when it comes to his bathroom habits, and prefers my perennial bed.

Cat litter is perfect for use on ice. It is cleaner than fireplace ashes, cheap and much better for sidewalks and surrounding vegetation than salt. Salt eats away at concrete and will kill just about any plant. Cat litter is harmless to plants and actually helps to loosen up the soil when it is dumped onto the garden. The only real problem is that it makes a terrible mess when tracked in on the carpet. But then, so do fireplace ashes, and salt will actually ruin the carpet fiber.

The reason for carrying cat litter in the car has nothing to do with weight. Cinder blocks work far better for that. The cat litter is handy if one gets stuck on the ice. . . . Just make sure that the litter is in a resealable container so that it doesn't end up all over the trunk.

Carol L. McCulloch


Friends Of CCC

Speaking on behalf of the Carroll Community College Board of Trustees, its faculty and staff, I would like to commend you for your article on Jan. 2 about Robert and Phyllis Scott. I would also like to point out that their generosity of spirit extends to Carroll Community College as well.

The Scotts have been gracious in donating their time and talents to the college. Many years ago, they sat on an advisory panel to assist in designing the educational specifications for the then-to-be-built campus. Most recently, they were one of the first donors to the Founders' Endowment Fund, established to assist students, to build faculty and program development, to sponsor cultural activities and to provide state-of-the-art equipment.

. . . We are proud to call Robert and Phyllis Scott "Friends of the College."

Barbara Charnock


The writer is chairwoman of the Carroll Community College Board of Trustees.

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