I logged on to check the weather. A mundane, daily activity. Weather.com loaded and I was shocked to see a blizzard in the news. It’s early October, isn’t it?
They are calling it “the blizzard that never was.” To be honest, I read about Atlas briefly on weather.com, closed the browser, and went outside to bake in the heatwave hitting the east coast. The blizzard was a freak of nature, yet I did not give it much thought – I was resigned to the growing unpredictability of Mother Nature. Then, later that week, a woman whose blog I follow posted about the blizzard and its devastating effect on the people of western South Dakota and the surrounding states. She does not know me, but her post was the catalyst that started my research on the subject.
As a native of the east coast living very near Washington D.C., who am I to write about the blizzard? I have no idea just how much it hurt the ranchers. I do not know what it is like to do what I can for my family (two-legged and four-legged) to weather out an extreme blizzard and yet still suffer great losses, to feel like I failed them. I have two horses who have a small stable to take shelter in. We don’t have to trek thousands of acres to bring our animals to safety. While I’ve been to a ranch in Wyoming for a NOLS course, I am an east coast country girl who lives on a small oasis of farmland in the middle of suburbia. How can I possibly understand? I can’t. Yet, I cannot stop thinking about the tragedy and how little it has been covered in the news.
I am not one to write about politics or current events as I like to keep my opinions to myself. However, in the face of natural disaster, it is so very important for communities, large and small, to set aside their differences and come together to help in any way possible. I’m shocked how little news coverage has been given to this blizzard. My family, friends, and random storekeepers I’ve mentioned it to had no idea how much was lost, let alone that the blizzard even occurred. Why hasn’t it been covered in the media? Good question. I am sure there are many opinions on this, but I do not want to take sides and get caught up in the argument. For those of you who actually read this, here are some links to give you the facts.
This catastrophic event did not affect anyone I know – why do I still care? It breaks my heart that all those innocent animals were suffocated to death and did not have their winter coats to protect them from the snow and wind. I mourn for those ranchers who lost everything or almost everything, and yet, due to the inefficiency and stalemate in our government, cannot get the help they need. How can I, someone who lives hundreds of miles away in a totally different environment, have the right to care?
History is riddled with sadness (and happiness). Should we just selfishly go through our own lives and ignore the sad news of environmental degradation, murder, rape, natural disasters, war, famine, poverty, bullying, and unemployment? How do we decide what to be sad about and what to overlook? What about a tragedy catches our eye? How does anyone who has not been directly affected or known someone directly affected by a tragic event have the right to be sad?
My love for animals and interest in ranch life (despite never having experienced it myself) drew me toward this story. Yet I know that there are so many tragic stories in the local, national and international news that I glance over. Only few embed themselves under my skin and make me think. In an age where information is very accessible, always changing, and overwhelming, I find myself growing more and more neutral and resigned. I listen to NPR a couple of mornings a week out of an obligation to stay informed. Yet, I feel disengaged. How can I, a measly “commoner,” make a difference in history?
I have been thinking about this a lot since reading about the blizzard. The Weekly Writing Challenge pushed me to write this bit of rambling and musing. I read the challenge and immediately knew I had to write about this. I had to get my thoughts out of my head. I don’t have the answers to my questions and do not expect anyone to answer them. The only thing that I ask of you, dear readers, please hold the men, women, children, and animals affected by the blizzard in the light. If you are the praying type, send them a prayer. If you aren’t that sort, send them your good thoughts.
Those who want to do more, please click on the below links, search for other ways to help, and spread the word.