Monday, February 8, 2010

Legends of the Snow

by Julia Buckley
We all have our snow stories. My husband remembers the Great Chicago Blizzard of '67. He and his mother had to walk to the store to get supplies. On the walk back his feet were so frozen from stepping in high drifts that he got home and realized that, somewhere along the journey, he'd lost one of his boots.

According to John R. Schmidt's blog, there were 20,000 abandoned vehicles by the end of that blizzard because cars couldn't go anywhere.

Then there was the blizzard of 1999, which hit Chicago like a giant white blanket and caused some 400 million dollars in damages. I recall it well, since I had a year-old baby who didn't enjoy going out in his snowsuit and experiencing the alien snow. His older brother, however, would barely be pulled out of the high drifts and dried off before he wanted to go in again.

Well, I think my sister can top all of our blizzard memories. She lives in Virginia and she called me today to say that she'd spent four hours just digging out her parking space. I didn't really believe her--not until she e-mailed me these photos:

She was stuck in her apartment, because she feared that the space she'd spent hours clearing would quickly be claimed by another driver. So she hunkered down with her cats, and even this brave fellow wasn't interested in going farther out onto the balcony once he got a whiff of the cold wet air.
The tall pine tree outside her balcony window was entirely bowed down by the snow; she fears it will die now.

The biggest problem with shoveling out of a blizzard like this, she told me, is that there is nowhere to put the snow. One can't fling it out into the street to become a hazard to motorists, but there's so much of it accumulated in her parking lot that the only option a driver has is to stack the snow behind another car. Claudia chose the car of a woman she knows is out of town; but not everyone will have that option, and the shoveling itself becomes an almost political problem.
She will have difficulty walking through the snow--she's only five feet tall and the snow is getting close to her waist. Here's her self portrait of her leg while she was shoveling.
Our own Sandra Parshall is also in Virginia, and her house and yard have been inundated by the snow, as well. Look at her birdfeeder with its giant cap:

This, then, will be a memorable blizzard for the East Coast--the blizzard of '10.

One of the greatest conflicts in fiction is that of man versus nature; perhaps that's why we're so fascinated with surprising weather. It's a reminder to us that Nature can conquer, but also that we keep taking nature for granted.


signlady217 said...

Our local weather people were just saying that this storm has dumped between 2 and 3 feet of snow up and down the Eastern seaboard. Brrr! Please don't send it back this way! I told some friends yeasterday that while I'm not looking forward to the really hot (close to or over 100) humid temperatures we get here in NE MS, I am ready for this cold stuff to GO AWAY! Around 70 degrees year-round would be just about perfect for me!

Julia Buckley said...

Yeah, spring sounds pretty good right about now. I'm in Chicago and the forecast says: SNOW. Up to ten or fifteen inches in the next two days.

Sheila Connolly said...

I somehow managed to be in Boston for the Blizzard of '78, which paralyzed the city and had people abandoning their cars on the MA Turnpike (I was living in California at the time--long story). And there was the Blizzard of '96 in Pennsylvania, which left 30+ inches at the airport.

And they say we used to get more snow when we were young? Ha!

Lonnie Cruse said...

We're expecting several inches of snow tonight and we just defrosted from the last one. At least we did defrost and you poor folks didn't. Sorry!

Julia Buckley said...

Well, let it come. That's the zen response, right?

Susan D said...

I empathize with everyone who's snowbound, but can't help heaving a sigh of relief that for once, Toronto is astoundingly snow-free. And I am truly appreciative of this respite.

Julia Buckley said...

Ah, Canada--that is a very snowy place, isn't it? And yes, I can understand that you enjoy the non-snowy times. That's what I'm enjoying now, although I'm supposed to wake up to a ten-inch snowfall tomorrow.

Julia Buckley said...

And here it is! It's been snowing ALL DAY.

kathy d. said...

Wow; that's some blizzard in Virginia.

I grew up in Chicago. Nothing I've experienced in New York compares to snowstorms there.

I remember having to walk to school through snow which reached my thighs, even my hips. Luckily, we lived close to the school.

The schools never closed there.

When we moved to New York, a few inches of snow fell when I was in 8th or 9th grade and the school was closed.

My father was livid, having lived through the Chicago winters when schools were open and his children went to school.