Do I even need to say that the last week and a half has been a blizzard of…blizzards?
Because that’s what I’ve been up to. Every notion around where I might go and how I might get there has been completely overrun with considerations that have to do with the weather. If we head north early up the coast of Maine, will we be ahead of the storm? If we proceed to New Hampshire, will we miss the wrath of Juno? If I drive to Vermont for a memorial event, will I be able to get back through Crawford Notch before the wind and snow make the drive impossible? Meanwhile, back at home: has the plow guy shown up yet? Should I stop in the hardware store in North Conway and pick up a new shovel? Has the parking ban been lifted? Is my elderly neighbor all set? Does my sidewalk need to be salted and shoveled, yet again?
In other words, I am living in a decidedly grown-up world, where city forecasts that call for snow are cause for coordination, preparation, and action. There’s no hopeful anticipation of a snow day, no joy at the prospect of building snow caves or snowmen or snow forts. Just logistics. That, and a lot of shoveling.
I was not always so burdened. Back before flash text messages and robocalls, I remember sitting by the radio in the kitchen, praying for my town to be on the school closings list–news that was greeted at my house with whoops of joy and the promise of maple syrup poured on fresh powder snow. Even in my college days, I loved a good snowstorm–the bigger the better. I didn’t need to concern myself with digging out cars or clearing sidewalks or anything other than having access to a dryer when the frolicking was done.
I was a college sophomore when the great Blizzard of ’78 hit these parts. I remember loving every minute of it–putting on all my foul-weather ski clothes, goggles and all, and leaning into the wind as my roommate and I tramped down the middle of a snowy, empty Mt. Auburn Street. I remember taking part in a tunneling expedition, where some classmates had created a replica of Boston’s transit system through the mounds of snow in the courtyard of our dorm. We all slid down the library steps, then trundled back to the dining hall and got extra marshmallows for my hot chocolate. I vaguely remember students serving meals, since the kitchen staff was short-handed. Two days after the snow began swirling, I remember waking up before 5AM, packing into a station wagon with my fellow ski team members, and sneaking out of town (through a driving ban–and after getting stopped in Somerville and told to turn around or face a $500 fine!) and making it to the Dartmouth Skiway in time to race. I only vaguely remember the drive back, which ended with us having to abandon our vehicle and subway back to school from the far end of the orange line.
Yes, 1978 was The Best Storm Ever, in my book. Best in terms of the most snow, best in terms of the most fun. And, as I didn’t realize at the time, best in terms of me being old enough to delight in it thoroughly, but not so old that I had any responsibilities attached to the accumulation of snow.
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Now, here I am. I live in a building with parking, but to get to it, I have to drive into a curious little no-man’s land, between my back door neighbors’ house and their two parking spots, and a small apartment building that also rents out four more parking spots. That’s eight vehicles in a tight formation that works just fine until we have a week like this one. From an all but snowless winter two weeks ago, we find ourselves today with, quite literally, no place to put any more snow. We get another dump, we’re going to have to start designating places to store white stuff instead of vehicles. It’ll get a little like Survivor. Someone’s gonna get kicked off the island.
Which, in truth, my beloved and I have already done to ourselves. One of our cars is on the street, in a well-manicured spot. We have some flexibility around beaching a vehicle across the river during snow emergencies. Our son takes a car off our hands (it really does feel like a gift, until he needs to bring it back) on the weekends. So our sketchy extra parking place at the end of our back porch? That’s turned into a designated snow dump zone.
Meanwhile, my spry octogenarian neighbor needs some looking out for, so that’s what we do. He moves his car to one of our spaces, so the plow guy has somewhere to push the snow. That done, I head over and tidy up his parking zone. By which I mean I take my shovel and peel off layers and toss them up and over the ever-growing snowbanks, to give him another few feet to back his car into.
Clearly, without a coordinated effort, we’re all screwed. Somewhere along the way, I became the designated grownup, the winter storm parking czarina. It’s a designation I’d give anything to offload. I want wunderlust over snowstorms! I want to look out the window and be delighted, not dismayed. I want to be a kid again.
Need I even note that all this snow makes a fiftysomething woman feel just a tad mortal? With my shoulder in sub-prime shoveling fitness, I made a grand gesture to my current infirmity and bought myself a new shovel–a cute little 5/8ths scale thing. It’s kept me from over-doing, but it makes the job take twice as long. I know it was the right thing to do, but I am feeling diminished from my long-standing role as The Woman Who Is A Snow Shoveling Machine. I’m pretty putt-putt these days, not much Vrooooom.
Some day my sweetie and I will push off from this place we’ve lived in for decades, to a home that’s easier to deal with. Honestly, it’ll be winters like this one that’ll nudge us into action. We’ve got a couple of soft landing spots marked out, places in town with underground parking, that sort of thing. There are two nearby smallish houses I’d snap up in a trice if they ever came on the market, just for their easy parking scenarios. But more than likely, we’ll stick it out here for awhile, and save our assisted living days (by which I mean, the days when we let someone else worry about snow removal while we sit at the bar and eat crabcakes and watch the Bruins and play cribbage) for somewhere off in the more distant future.
In the meantime, there’s another storm on the way. Might be time to rethink the snowblower option.