Cathy Hamilton: The life of a Weather Channel groupie

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I adore a good winter storm. I get excited - I mean, really excited - at the remotest possibility of massive amounts of snow and ice. For hours, if not days, before a storm, I'll be glued to the Weather Channel watching the low-pressure front gather steam and head in our direction.

I'm a sucker for those sensationalist meteorologists who try to scare us with phrases like "this is a going to be a major snow event, folks" or "please, don't venture outside unless it's a matter of life and death." (That's my favorite.) I channel-surf to find the most incredible forecast, then hang on every word.

(Truth be told, I'm a Weather Channel groupie. God forbid, if that brave and handsome Jim Cantore ever came to town, I might have to rethink my marriage vows.)

When a storm seems really, truly imminent, I head to the grocery store. I enjoy being shoulder-to-shoulder in the throng, bonding with strangers and shopping for food I otherwise would never eat, like Cup O' Soup and gorp. I especially like peeking in other people's carts to see what they'll be eating to weather the storm. (Hmm, beanie weenies. Now there's an idea!)

Back at home, I love, love, love gearing into pioneer woman mode.

I'll make a pot of chili - enough to feed a small town - and hot cider, spiking it with a wee bit of brandy (because, after all, it is an emergency.) I round up the flashlights and the candles, get all my laundry done, invite the kids over and then sit and eagerly wait for atmospheric Armageddon.

It's at this point that my husband, in all his glass-half-empty glory, wanders into the living room, takes one look at the radar and says, "It ain't gonna happen." (He throws in the 'ain't' on purpose, just to push me over the edge.)

"What do you mean?" I cry. "Can't you see that giant band of pink moving into our part of the state? That's ice, buster! There are storm warnings posted - warnings, not watches - and the predicted low is 26 degrees! There is no way it's not going to happen, and you'd be a fool not to gather the firewood and gas up the generator!"

Shaking his head, he shuffles off to the garage, mumbling something about it being too warm for any real accumulation.

My husband and I have a long history of weather forecast-related incompatibility. Summer, fall, winter or spring, when a storm system approaches and I work myself up into a barometric frenzy, he'll burst my bubble by saying things like "it'll break up before it gets here" or "it's going to just miss us."

Unfortunately, he's usually right.

For reasons that elude me (and local weather experts, apparently), the unstable air masses that drift our way, promising dramatic stay-inside scenarios (or, at least, garden-soaking downpours), tend to peter out before reaching our ZIP code. It's like there's an enormous protective dome over us, like tennis courts at fancy country clubs in the winter. Even when "Weather on the 8's" posts a 70 percent chance of precipitation, we'll get nary a drop or - worse - a frustratingly brief sprinkle or dusting.

"See, what did I tell you?" he'll say the next morning.

Oh, how I loathe those six words.

So you can understand how excited I became when a storm actually panned out this week.

I get a thrill waking up to a winter wonderland outside. It's magical the way the ice transforms the trees and native grasses into sparkling works of art. I love how snow blankets the earth, creating a certain stillness found nowhere else in nature.

As an empty-nester, I still get a charge as school cancellations roll across the TV screen in the morning. I imagine kids all across town, jumping up and down in their pj's, then bounding back into bed for a few precious hours of extra sleep.

And there's nothing I love more than sitting in front of a fire, sipping hot cider with just a wee bit of brandy (because, after all, it is an emergency), watching Cantore report live from a raging blizzard in Iowa and whispering to my beloved, "See, what did I tell you?"

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