WEATHER OR NOT By Karen A Lech It has been said, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world". Well, I have rocked many a cradle, and I don't rule the world... yet. I would, however, like to rule the weather. Living in Northern Illinois is a life-long lesson in appreciation. The extremes of weather here make life challenging, exhilarating, frustrating, humbling. We citizens of the Midwestern United States 'oooh' and 'ahhh' over the change in seasons. The first days of Spring-like weather (temperatures above 40 degrees) finds us outside basking in the warm sunlight, which we feel has been hidden from us far longer than those who live nearer the Artic Circle. In fact, if you were to ask an Illinoisan about winter here, and winter in Alaska, he would laugh. After all, Alaskans are used to that six months on and off thing. My idea for ruling the weather (at least the weather in Illinois) is relatively simple. I have given this idea a lot of thought, taking into consideration the likes/dislikes of the population. You see, there are some delusionals here who LIKE winter, with snow and temperatures cold enough to snap atoms. My plan will accommodate them, as well as the sun lovers and wannabe Hawaiians. This compromise, to me, is perfect. I did have to remember the farmers who have designated harvest times and planting times. I do realize that there are "atmospheres" nostalgically implanted in our minds (and hearts) for seasonal holidays. What fun would it be to have no leaves to jump in? Then again, there would be no leaves to rake! Christmas.. without snow, without red tipped noses from the cold, the "aura" of the silent snowfalls..... would just not be right! We can do without snow for Valentine's Day, and Easter too, for that matter! Don't many of us ladies remember having the most gorgeous new Easter outfits and sandals all set to wear to church on Easter Sunday morning - only to chuck the whole idea and have to swaddle ourselves into mukluks and snow shoes because of six to eight inches of snow on the ground, when the day prior was a balmy 65 degrees. My idea is this: From the evening of December 22nd through January 1st, it may snow all it wants and be cold. Most kids are off school for the Holidays, and they can play in it, build snowmen, etc. Snowmobilers can revel at high speeds across Illinois for this period of time. Frost can only happen on October 30th and it has to be a "speed frost" (kind of like the "speed dry nail polish" or "instant freeze" spray we use on our hairdos!) The leaves may then fall all October 31st for Halloween, thereby creating a spooky atmosphere and huge piles of leaves to jump in, rake (if you like that sort of thing), burn, etc. November 1st will definitely be the start of harvest time and may continue through Thanksgiving. The ground can rest for about a month because on January 2nd, the temperatures will once again resume reaching to 70 degrees and above. This will create conditions for an earlier planting season and farmers will probably get two (or more!) crops a year. Farmers can vacation during the "ground resting season". There will be none of this getting dark at 4 in the afternoon either, once January 2nd hits. During the snow season, December 22 through January 1st, it is okay for the sunset to be at 5- 5:30. Starting January 2nd, of course, the days will get "longer" again. I also feel my idea will truly benefit the economy of Illinois. The farms will produce more food because of the extended growing season. Sunglasses sales will skyrocket. Golf courses could do a LOT more business. Baseball season could last for 10 months! Malls will do much more business as the population will not be "snowed in". There will not be any snow days for the school systems and children will benefit immensely, as well as their mothers who worry sick about their kids on a school bus knowing full well driving conditions are hazardous. (Why is it law we must "buckle up" and school busses carrying the lives of future America have no seat belts?) Businesses will no longer have employees calling in for a day off because they are stuck in their driveways (or in bed with a sore back from shoveling snow). This idea is great! I am sure if it were put to vote, MY weather system would win by a landslide (exception being should this be presented to Floridians - who don't know how to vote or Californians). Florida and Arizona will pay in gold bullion to Illinois for keeping our senior citizens out of their states. Illinois can also sell this system to adjacent Midwestern states, possibly other countries! Parts of this system, for short term effects, could be sold to Alaskans, Northern Canadians, Siberia. I think many Minnesota residents would appreciate this change in weather pattern. Illinois coffers will overflow...which means Illinoisans can pay less taxes!!! I don't rule the weather .... yet. I probably should not mess with the system. But one thinks of these things while rocking cradles. Thanks for reading! Karen A. Lech