Thursday, January 29, 2009

Now that's snow!

Mom & Sis in The Great Blizzard, which was chest-high on a weeble.

If you were alive then, chances are you remember the winter of 1977-78. Across most of the country, records were set for snowfall. It just kept snowing and snowing, without any warm-ups in between. Even in my hometown, "the Buffalo of the midwest," it was impressive. There was too much snow for sledding, skating, fort-building or snowball fights; there was too much snow for the snowplows to keep up with, especially on the smaller residential streets. After nearly a week of being house-bound, Mom ventured out, because someone had shoveled a path (just about as wide as the one in the picture) down the middle of the street. She intended to visit her friend at the other end of the block. But when she got there, she discovered that no one had shoveled from the street path to Janina's house, and there was no way to reach her door. So Mom just waved at her from the middle of the street, then trudged back home.

Thirty years later, it is still the standard by which all other winters, all other snowfalls, are measured. It reminds me of the poor pioneer women who suffered from Cabin Fever: after weeks or months of complete isolation, they just snapped and set fire to their homes, forcing their husbands to abandon a remote homestead and return to civilization.

I trudged to the drugstore and back this morning, a whole two blocks. My wonderful neighbors shoveled my walk yesterday morning and once I turned the corner, I was able to walk down a plowed street. Don't get me wrong: this snowstorm -- nearly a foot of snow overnight -- is a whopper! But the plows are out, almost everyone has either front- or four-wheel drive, most of us have a full pantry, and reliable heat. It's not like it was in 1877, or even 1977.

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