Shoop, shoop, shoop. This guy jogged past me at a steady clip, breathing steady, smooth on his feet. I trudged like a turtle. Clip. Clop. Clip. Clop. I waved to him as he passed me heading south on a two way road devoid of traffic. It was just me and him, and the contrasts really couldn’t have been any clearer. He waved back and continued on his way. Approximately 10 minutes later he passed me again, going the opposite direction. This time I threw a few words his way. “I wish I had your stamina,” I said, and then he was gone again.

I continued trudging through the knee deep snow, head down, intent on my destination. Clip. Clop. Clip. Clop.

wp-1489532906540.jpgHonestly, I should have been driving, but I abandoned my car back in the village. It couldn’t make it up the mini-hill, despite the snow tires, despite the 4-wheel drive. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but I left it in the village because I didn’t trust that I wouldn’t run off the road if I continued, even if I did manage to make it up the mini-hill. So I began to walk. In my bright orange coat I knew I made a big enough target for possible approaching motorists, so I wasn’t too worried about getting run over. I began to walk.

Truth be told, the trip from the village to the house here is only about 2/3rds of a mile, but through knee deep snow, with constant snow still falling steadily from above, it might as well have been 10 miles. That jogger who passed me twice — I have no idea why he was out there, or how crazy he really is, but that man is my hero. Perhaps he was training for some kind of marathon, but in this weather, with these blizzard-like conditions, I wouldn’t have left the house if I didn’t have to work.

But yeah, back to the driving portion of the journey. I left work early after my wife called, upset that I was still there when the snow was coming down like this, while the Snowpocalypse was reaching epic heights without a plow in sight. So many businesses were closed, so many schools shuttered for the day, but at Target we soldier on. I didn’t want to be a soldier, but I got there before the storm began. Boots on the ground. Literal boots.

As the day wore on, though, the snow didn’t stop, the emergency vehicles were loud outside the doors, and the anxiety level of loved ones at home reached a fever pitch. So I left early, even though I almost never leave early, knowing that the journey would be a treacherous one, and wanting to start it before it turned the corner into impossible. I left nearly two hours early, and just in time. When I reached my car in the parking lot it was piled high with thick snow, not the fluffy, pretty kind, but the heavy wet stuff that causes accidents. I brushed it off and said a prayer that I would make it back here safely.


I’m not a fan of snow adventures. On my drive back there was no lack of adventure. I saw no fewer than 10 cars in various ditches along the way, often paired with tow trucks and police vehicles, but just as often on their own, having just gone down. Hazard lights were everywhere, but it was hard to see the lines beneath all the snow. Plows were nowhere to be seen — odd, but not too shocking. But with the sheer volume of snow I would have expected more of a presence from the large vehicles. Without them around I kept it under 20 miles an hour.

About a 3rd of the way back here my windshield wipers inexplicably stopped working, something that has never happened before. With the amount of snow from Snowmageddon coming down it quickly became difficult to see out of the front glass, so I improvised. I grabbed my snow brush from the passenger side footwell, slipped on one glove (Michael Jackson-style), opened my window, and began brushing the snow off while driving even more slowly. Cars passed me in waves, some of which ended up in the various ditches, but I soldiered on.

A trip that normally takes me 1/2 an hour stretched on to over 2 as one by one issues came up to impede my progress, but I never stopped for long. I toughed it out, freezing my arm off holding out that snow brush, my hazard lights on, waving others past like a traffic attendant, until I could go no further. Then I started walking. Because I was close enough to sense the finish line. Even if I couldn’t see it through the rapidly falling snow. That’s still coming down in layers.



White-Out Christmas

snowfall_1My first Christmas here it snowed puppies and kittens. Now, I’m a Philly boy born and raised, so a little snow never bothers me. I grew up around snow plows and getting snowed in (on occasion), so I thought I was prepared for a true, honest-to-goodness upstate New York winter. I was not. And Christmas was the perfect time to discover that for the first time.

The blizzard of 2002 started rather inauspiciously, with a few snow flurries on Christmas Eve, but by the time we rolled out of bed on the special morning and shuffled to the large picture window in our fuzzy robes and slippers our mouths were agape at the winter wonderland that awaited us. And we both thought at the same time, “shovels.” Then the shifts began, the great Christmas dig-out.

She had the first shift, bundling up against the cold, grabbing the nearest shovel and getting to work while I made hot chocolate for both of us in our tiny kitchen. I couldn’t help thinking about the insane juxtaposition of spending Christmas in Tennessee in 2001 when it was a balmy 50 degrees with nary a snowflake in the sky. What a difference a year (and a couple thousand miles) makes.

Then it was my turn, and I took the same shovel she used, feeling a kinship with her as I grabbed its handle. Either that or it was just damn cold. As I headed out into the abyss that was our yard, I knew I would be out there for a while. And it kept snowing the whole time. That was the craziest part of it. We were just trying to keep status quo in the midst of so much of the white, fluffy stuff.

It was my job to dig out the cars. Snow had come up almost to the windows while the storm had raged on Christmas Eve, and the position of our driveway at the time was down near the road. I had to shovel through what seemed like miles of yard just to get to the vehicles, and my arms were exhausted from the effort. Then it took a Herculean effort to shovel around the car wheels, creating an island of car in the sea of snow. Then I dug out the second one. Continue reading “White-Out Christmas”

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