Passing Winter in the Wilds
A Southern Dad Visiting New England Writes a Letter to His Daughter in Winter
This weather really makes my day, my month, my life! I woke up to a winter wonderland this morning that can only be described as ‘the mother lode’. You know I’ve loved snow my whole life. And by God, I finally got it. Wonderful, beautiful, glorious snow!
Everything is in varying shades of white and grey, the wind is speaking up every few minutes, and the blessed snow plows are busy at work. They've been plowing the street since sundown yesterday and I literally lost count of how many times they've been by. The news keeps broadcasting the number of pieces of heavy equipment we have in town to combat this silent white invasion and the figure is over 400 plows, pickups, salt/sand trucks, and sidewalk bobcats. Yankee ingenuity at its best!
It's times like this I'm reminded of my self-inflicted exile to Atlanta some years ago. You know as well as anyone how much I love cold weather and how many times I've moved and said "...as long as I stay above the Mason-Dixon Line”. I sealed my own fate by reciting this so often and wound up eating my own words when I migrated to Atlanta, the friggin' capital of the south. We did have snow, however. Nothing measurable by current northern standards mind you, but enough to coat the ground with an inch to spare.
YouTube has a video of all two of Atlanta's (yes, I said two) snowplows—that, incidentally, got into an accident with each other during the first snowfall. Back then two inches of snow crippled the city but it wasn't until last year, well after my escape, that avalanches threatened. That was after another 2 inches literally paralyzed the city. The evening news hyped the impending disaster; stranded motorists frightened and starving, women having babies in their cars on the freeways, massive crashes and pileups, weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth, you get the idea. And this was on the same route I used to commute to work.
I'd arrive at work before sunup and the whole trip took 15 minutes. After work, during rush hour, the same route home would take over an hour. I hated it. I wonder how Gabe’s dad is doing. He moved down there just as I moved out.
After living in California where life was unbelievably normal, moving to other locations is similar to stepping out of a time machine that went backward. You're mature enough now that I can’t tell you what to do, and I wouldn't expect you to listen, but still, I forbid you to move to Georgia.
Oh my. I see the snow isn't letting up at all. It's still coming down like it's never gonna end. Who asked for this mess? Who's gonna shovel the driveway? I think all the dogs and cats climbed under their porches and suddenly the street is empty. Any birds are conspicuous by their absence. What the hay??
But waking up to an email from you, my beloved, is all I'd ever ask for. I'm still in my L.L. Bean flannel pajamas sipping hot coffee and it's only 10:30 am. Thanks for all your concerns but let me assure you, I'm as fit as a fiddle, mad as a hatter, and not any fatter. In fact I'm back down to my "normal 185 pounds" with my boyish good looks and my Tarzan physique. (And I’ll need all these muscles I’ve spent years cultivating to clean off the car.) Snow! Did I say I wanted some? Who needs it?
The governor declared a State of Emergency (Ew! Ew! I’m scared) for the whole state yesterday before even one little snowflake hit the ground. Then they announced that all schools and businesses (except for chiropractors) will be closed the next two days. He even called in the National Guard and extra electric linemen yesterday from as far away as Idaho, to begin heading here. I wish I was in Santa Cruz. I hate snow.
Yesterday, a live press conference on TV addressed how this impending blizzard here would impact the three major groups of shoppers descending upon the grocery stores: normal weekend grocery shoppers, blizzard-panicked food shoppers seeking milk, bread and flashlight batteries, and the myriad of football fanatics needing salsa and their twenty bags of chips for the Super Bowl.
Forewarned, I jumped in the car and raced to the supermarket where at first glance it looked like there was a literal riot in progress. I found a parking space with an abandoned shopping cart (which were greatly in demand), and commandeered it. I wasn’t packing, but I bravely rolled it toward the milling crowd. Miraculously, I got in and out of the building with corned beef and a cabbage, in 13 minutes.
I whipped over to Sonny’s Suds for a six-pack and headed for home where I hauled half a cord of firewood onto the back porch. When I returned, the TV press conference was just winding down so I settled back on the couch to make fun of all the hoopla about the "historically record-breaking snowfall"—after all, I had my stuff.
They continued by warning against shoveling snow because it can lead to heart attacks in the elderly or out of shape. But with my aging Apollo-like body (and physique of Cheetah the chimpanzee), I'm always careful to leave this work to the pros and only shuffle into the kitchen to shovel down refreshments.
By 5 o'clock there was an eerie silence in the air as if a catastrophe were pregnant and about to unleash impending white hell and certain death upon the area. The roads were suddenly deserted, the sky was slate grey, livestock were huddled in their barns, and snow shovels were at the ready everywhere.
It was around this time that I thought about checking the supply of heating oil. Like the captain on the doomed Edmund Fitzgerald that went down in Lake Superior, I commanded my first mate (when she wasn’t giving me commands) to see how many gallons of oil we had. (By the way, you're forbidden to buy a house with oil heat too.) The little needle was pointing to E indicating there was barely enough to wet a sponge. I gasped-- when the firewood ran out we'd be burning the furniture. Snow!Ugh--
Swirling white ghosts, some bigger than a house, were dancing menacingly up and down the street with flakes flying in every direction. I can hardly see across the street where the Ed Langdon of the neighborhood is struggling mightily with his snow blower as if bailing out a sinking ship with a teacup in a typhoon. Wherever he stops it, the Alberta Clipper instantly blows a blinding cloud of snow back in his face.
We’re all feeling better, especially Grandma, since we drilled some air holes in the roof. Her broken ribs are healing well and she’s still exulting over her natural hat trick and 2 assists in the hockey playoffs.
And can you believe Grandpa shlepped 30 miles through the snow to watch the Super Bowl with us?
[your favorite Abominable Snowman]