When I was young I noticed that the acoustics in our house changed after a snowstorm.  I think the snow dampened a lot of the ambient noise from outside, and this was usually my first clue that I might get the day off school.  Snow changes the acoustics at our new home as well, but in a different way.  The morning after a snowstorm we usually awaken to the gentle rumbling of snowblowers, small gas-powered carts with rotating monster teeth that are used to move snow into your neighbors yard.  Not that I am complaining.  By the time I am out of bed and have had a cup of coffee, the sidewalk in front of our house has usually been cleared by neighbors.  This week we had the first big snow of the year and someone had cleared the sidewalk of our entire street, end to end.  My guess is that because winter just started, the men have been apart from their snowblowers for a while (for whatever reason, I have only observed snowblowers being operated by men; please correct me if you have evidence to the contrary) and they are eager to be reunited.  Maybe they are practicing to get their technique back, maybe they enjoy the meditative state induced by blasting large amounts of snow and ice into the sky, or maybe they are just darn nice people.  Whatever the reason, Wisconsinites love snowblowers as much as they love to tell you how bad the winters are here.  The subtext of these comments goes something like this: “You’re new here, and until you have proven yourself by making it through one of our winters, we’re not going to get too attached.”  The first few times I heard this I made the mistake of mentioning that we just moved from Cleveland, a city that gets far more snow than these parts, and we shoveled our snow there.  One time I also mentioned that there is an entire country north of here and I’m pretty sure their winters are worse than ours, though they are much too polite to make a fuss about it.  But I stopped doing this after I recalled that the news in the Midwest is really just window dressing for the weather report – it is one thing that provides solidarity among the locals.  At least that’s what was reported in the book “How To Speak Minnesotan”, and in Wisconsin we speak something that is similar but definitely distinct.  I can do a decent job of mimicking the Minnesota accent, but I have to admit the Wisconsin accent it pretty hard to nail down.  It is a bit more nasal, and our long “ooooos” aren’t quite as deep, and we don’t go around saying “you bet” or “you betcha”.  Thankfully, soft drinks are called by their correct name “soda”; you have to cross the western border before they become “pop”.  I know this firsthand from visiting family in Iowa and Minnesota throughout my life and enjoying my share of orange or root beer floats.  Everett does not yet have a detectable accent, and because he has been visiting his grandparents for the past week has not been exposed to the snow yet, but we will keep everyone posted on his accent and interest in snow machines.

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