Two requirements are paramount for journalists who are writing about Minnesota weather -- a flexible deadline and a window.
That's a lesson this writer learned years ago when The Brainerd Dispatch's office was on South Sixth Street. As the Saturday reporter I spent part of that morning putting the final touches on a Sunday feature on the scarcity of snow in Brainerd. I had quotes from people affected by the lack of snow. I had snowfall statistics from the DNR. I had the story about finished.
What I didn't have on the second floor of that old newspaper building was a window.
So in the two or three hours that I worked on my article I was oblivious to the fact the city was in the throes of a major snowstorm -- a fact that most readers would consider to be pertinent to the story. It wasn't until I was on my way out the door that I realized I would have to make a last-minute revision to the Sunday story.
Although I have windows now I'm faced with a similar situation since this column is being written a few days in advance of its publication. If I write a column about the lack of snow then sure as shooting we'll get a major blizzard.
This year, I'm willing take that chance. This winter has been so wimpy that even the ramblings of a presumptuous newsman won't stir the dormant ice gods into action.
This winter could go down in the record books as the winter that wasn't. Moderate temperatures and minimal snowfall have some of us wondering if this is the result of the global warning folks have been talking about for a while.
It wasn't that many winters ago that Gov. Arne Carlson was canceling schools statewide on several occasions because of inclement weather. This year, snowmobilers are considering adding wheels their sleds so they can actually use the expensive toys.
Everybody worries about the skiers and snowmobilers, but these mild winters are taking their toll on Minnesota newspaper editors too.
There are an awful lot of front pages to put out during the course of the winter and we count on a certain number of days when we can feature photos of disgruntled motorists trying to start their cars, scarf-wearing mothers with children in tow, being blown across the street by frigid winds and orange snowplows pushing snow in that familiar curving arc that is so photogenic.
We're in the last week of January and we're still struggling to come up with some sort of news photos that say "winter."
Where is the snow? Where are the howling winds? Where are the winter travel advisories?
What we need is an early state basketball tournament. It's our only hope.
It's got to be the lamest news story of year and yet the news media go along with the charade every Jan. 19.
Every year, since 1949, a mysterious, black-clad stranger visits the grave of Edgar Allen Poe in the middle of the night and leaves three red roses and a bottle of fine French cognac. A small group of witnesses, including reporters, wait through the early hours of the morning to watch the mysterious visitor come and go at the small Baltimore cemetery.
I'm no Bob Woodward but idle curiosity and my professional training would force me to yell out "Hey fella! Can I talk to you for a minute and get your name?"
Instead, everyone plays along with the game. Reporters quote the curator of the Edgar Allen Poe House and Museum, who breathlessly describes the thrill of seeing the stealthy stranger. He tells us the original man in black died in 1998 and the tradition has been passed on to his sons. He says the three roses are for Poe and his wife and his aunt, who are buried by his side.
Again, I would have to ask, "How do you know that?"
I'd also like to know who gets to keep the French cognac when all the Edgar Allen hype has died down for another year.
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