Prepare for the ‘s’ word in Ohio

The real test of my ”I love Ohio” mettle is when snow – yes, “the ‘s’ word,” shows up on the weather forecast. In October. I had convinced myself that snow would not show up on my weather app until late November at the earliest, so you could probably hear my naivete shattering across the Valley.

I like fall; it’s my favorite season. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin brownies, pumpkin bread (you’re starting to glimpse our fall menus), leaves changing, a crisp in the air to match the crunch of leaves beneath my feet. Fall is when I first met my wife; I realized I ”liked” her around this time, and took her on our first date in early November.

You can imagine my disappointment when I looked at the forecast and saw that snow was even a possibility. At the time of writing, it had not yet snowed. By the time you read this, it may not have done so at all. Yet, the point remains.

How dare nature throw even the threat of snow at us at such an early time? It’s just not fair. I’ve never liked surprises (when my parents surprised me with a trip to Disney World when I was five, I responded with tears, saying, “I’m not prepared”). This is a surprise of the worst kind.

The reality is that we all hate surprises, we all hate when the weather changes. Folks who are a lot smarter than me tell me that anger is the human’s natural response to a well-laid plan falling to pieces, when progress toward an objective is interrupted. In the end, the change in season is only one of our many frustrations in the Valley.

Politicians don’t do what we want them to do, or for that matter what they should be doing. (Tom Letson playing with his iPad during an official meeting, anyone?) Governments we rely on shut down, or lag behind on their commitments. Leaders who I trust fail my expectations. For that matter, friends and family do the same.

Yet, in my most honest moments I recognize that the problem isn’t just “them,” it’s also me. I fail. I make mistakes. I get in the way of others. As much as I would like to paint myself as someone who is always responsible, in reality, in doing so I paint myself into a corner that forces me to realize that I, too, am a mistake machine.

In the midst of our endless failings, mistakes, and frustrations, there is something rather peaceful about snow on my forecast in late October-because it wouldn’t really be an Ohio fall without at least a sneeze of snow before Halloween. There is, indeed, something rather peaceful about fall. Its predictability comforts us in the midst of our own fumbling and mistake-making. Its faithful, colorful appearance reminds us that there are still a few things in this world that we can count on.

Fall also reminds us of second chances, of forgiveness, grace, and mercy. When these leaves fall and the trees go bare in a few weeks, we only have to wait a little while before they burst full and green again, taking us out of the dreariness of winter and into the hopefulness of spring.

The ancients believed that gratitude was the key to a full life; Aesop said, “Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” More recently, G.K. Chesteron wrote, “When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” Indeed, the critical thing for us an Northeast Ohioans, in this time of season’s changing, is if we can accept not only the weather, but each other with gratitude.

Here’s a little secret: life becomes a lot easier to handle with a pumpkin dessert in hand. I find myself a far more grateful man when nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon are involved. So treat yourself tonight. I guarantee the weather won’t bother you much at all.

Tennant is a Warren resident. Email him at