The Blizzard of 2015
On Monday evening the snow started falling. I was thinking to myself how lucky I was not to worry about getting up early to shovel the driveway so I could drive out to go to work. Those were the days of my long commute, snow or no-snow, I trekked my hazardous way westward. Now deep into the night I woke up several times looking at the snow being whipped around by the gusty wind and I was as snugged as a bug in a rug.
Our old clunky industrial snow-blower had long ago given up the ghost. We have been or more like I have been shoveling the long driveway and now the town ordinance made it a rule that homeowners have the onus of clearing the sidewalks around their homes by the evening of a snow storm or risk being fined; all done with an old-fashioned shovel with my own two hands.
In the morning of the BIG BLIZZARD, my kitten, Grisela, who has become the darling of the neighborhood from all her daily gallivanting, took a long hard survey of the white expanse with her wide inquisitive eyes, sniffed the cold air philosophically as she always does, and turned around and walked back resolutely into the house with her hind legs seemingly clad in pantaloons, her bushy tail straight up. No outing for her at least for the day.
But I still wanted her to experience her first real big snow storm. So mercilessly I plunked her into the deep soft snow. Bewildered and shaking the white fluff from her long fluffy fur, she struggled to get out of the snow drift, gaining little traction as she pushed herself along.
As the snow kept on falling I spaced my shoveling so I could clear my back porch, driveway, front walkway and then the sidewalks on the front and the right side of the house for our house happens to sit at a corner so the yardage of walkway is longer than most. While I used my elbow grease, my neighbors hummed along with their snow blower. A kind neighbor worked his snow blower through my front sidewalk so that was off my list of shoveling. The whole time Grisela watched from the dining room window, wide-eyed with wonder.
It was a snow day!
When my kids were little snow days were god’s gift to be savored. As a working parent, however I could not take a day off on the spur of the moment. Once on April Fool’s day it snowed very hard. My children were off. I was tempted to take the day off for I had no clinic to attend to or teaching responsibility that day. However I recalled there was an administrative meeting in the afternoon. In those days I had such a strict work ethic that I tried to fulfill my duties even in the face of extreme hardship. So reluctantly I said good-bye to my kids and drove on the slippery road westward. Normally it took me about 80 minutes to get to work but that day after a long three-hour brutal and dangerous drive; I only covered half of my journey, slowed to a crawl behind a truck which had a difficult time scaling a hilly road. I mentally calculated that by the time I reached my destination, I would have missed the meeting.
So I turned around at the next U-turn and headed home. I realized too late that no meeting was that important that I should risk life and limb in the storm. I called our division administrative assistant that I tried but could not get to work that day. Her reply left me dumbfounded. She was going to consider that I took the day off, never mind my having taken a huge and hazardous effort to get to work, albeit a failed attempt, using three quarters of the April fool’s day.
Back home I plunged into the snow drift burying myself in the laughter and warm embrace of my children who had been having a great deal of fun playing, trying to make up for lost time, pushing back in the dark recesses of my mind the unpleasant discourse I just had with the assistant. I simply wanted to revel in the simple joy and innocence of living in the moment with my children.
As I shoveled, a family of cross-country skiers went by, a couple snow-shoed their way on the sidewalks and one lost his snow shoe and was not even aware of it, and children walked by with their snow tubes and toboggans heading to the slopes by the Underwood Swimming pool.
The next day I put on my running shoes and ran through shoveled sidewalks and when there were none, on the roads. Traffic was light. The effort of running on snow felt a little like running in the sand on Copa Cabana Beach, making the leg muscles work a lot harder; but it was exhilarating nevertheless.
Grisela is still confounded by the snow. She shook her foot with each step on the snow. The neighborhood was strangely quiet. Where were all the birds?
I took her to watch the neighborhood children sliding down the slopes, their parents standing on the top of the hill passively watching. I remembered how frivolously I behaved when my children were young then. Rather than watching vicariously, I rode the toboggan with them going up to the highest part at the Oakley Country Club, hurtling down three slopes blindly and with wild abandon, screaming all the while to warn onlookers of our approaching death dive, ending near a line of bales of hay which stopped our descent into Tupelo Road onto oncoming traffic. My bones were not brittle then.
Still I relish these snow days.