It seems as if it was only last week that I told the tale about a massive windstorm that knocked out power across the region and made matchsticks out of half the trees on our property. It looks a lot better today, mainly because the entire mess is buried under snow.
Shortly after the windstorm, the weatherpeople started telling us about a huge snowstorm that was moving in on the east coast, which is, coincidently, where I live. Winter Storm Stella is what they were calling it since we now name every sort of weather event. Stella was supposed to bury us under a mountain of mid-March snow, and while many of us were doubtful since weatherpeople are frequently wrong, a whole lot more of us clogged the grocery stores in search of milk, eggs, and bread. Apparently, blizzards bring out a considerable craving for French toast.
Well, two things: The weatherpeople were right this time and French toast is good.
We went to bed Monday night to fluffy, pretty snow flurries and woke up Tuesday morning to what we affectionately call shovelable snow. Since I don’t have a degree in meteorology or one of those precise snow measuring yardsticks they use at NOAA, here’s my foolproof method:
I send out the dog.
If he refuses to go out, I throw a biscuit outside. Milo will walk through fire for a biscuit. I then see how far up the snow goes on his legs, and multiply that by how far he gets before he pees. If he makes it to the grass area, it’s not that bad. If he pees and poops on the driveway, I may as well warm up the snowblower while the coffee is brewing because Milo has no plans on going outside for a while. He’s the snow version of the canary in a coal mine.
There were about eight inches of snow, which in itself is nothing, but it wasn’t stopping and it was drifting. By the time I finished breakfast and got dressed, there was closer to a foot in some spots. Mrs. G. followed me outside, and she shoveled off the front steps, while I chewed up the rest of it with the snowblower. When the driveway was done, I plowed a huge circle in the front yard for Milo, and then we all went inside.
I made a decision that I would stay in sweatpants all day, which is a big deal since I normally wear regular pants unless I have the flu, which I did not. This sweatpants decision was a breakthrough of sorts since I’m a guy, and as a guy, I have a compulsion to carry my wallet and a pocket knife with me at all times, which is not anything I do with sweatpants. It also signals to me that I’m not going anywhere since I’m the sort of person who wouldn’t be caught dead outside of my property line wearing sweatpants or track pants or athletic pants or whatever else they call pants without a zipper.
So there I was, all casual and wearing sweatpants on a Tuesday afternoon while watching the snow pile up outside. I didn’t even have my boots off and my coat on a hanger before the driveway looked as if it had never been touched.
I should explain that my wife and I both drive four-wheel drive vehicles, so the driveway doesn’t have to be down to the bone, and since there was no real urgency to suit up and go back outside to plow again, I watched the snow fill the driveway. It really didn’t matter, since local officials were encouraging people to stay off the roads, while schools and stores were closing in response to the weather. Besides, no matter how good of a bad weather driver I think I am, that is offset by people who are driving around with worn tires, a cigarette in one hand, and their arm out the window, snapping their wiper blade with the other hand. There is nowhere I need to be that compels me to comingle with people too reckless to drive in a demolition derby.
The news that evening was filled with reporters who must’ve drawn the short straw for assignments, and they were filling us in on how bad it was by clomping through snow, wearing hats that are usually reserved for fur trappers, nylon coats by L.L. Bean (the official haberdasher for weather reporters) and gloves thicker than those worn by soccer goalies.
“Lester, I’m here on the Deathwood Pier in New Jersey, watching waves crash up and over the microwave antenna on the news van. The Profoto B1 500 battery-powered light kit has frozen over, so I’m afraid I may look a little peaked. As bad as that is, I can’t feel my toes and I’m pretty sure my eyes are frozen wide open. Also, there is a layer of ice on my skinny jeans so thick, I can’t bend my knees, but thankfully, my badger fur hunting cap from Orvis is holding up like a champ. From New Jersey, this is Miguel Almaguer reporting.”
Locally, and I won’t name names, one of our more glamorous female news anchors was outdoors, letting us know how bad the weather was outside. I could tell it was bad because the wooly worm caterpillars that she was wearing on her eyelids were extremely long and lush, and as The Farmer’s Almanac will tell you, this means a bad winter is coming. I could also tell that she was not in her element at all. Seeing her outside in severe weather was almost as odd as watching a llama walking around Sears while wearing five-inch Louboutin pumps.
On Wednesday morning, it was time to go back out to clear the driveway. One of my neighbors apparently believed the hype that a Jeep can go through anything, so he backed out of his garage into his unplowed driveway. He got about fifteen feet (or however long a Jeep Cherokee is) before he was buried up to the door handles in snow. I may have laughed a little.
Mrs. G. and I finished up outside, she doing her normal step shoveling while I plowed the rest. We make a good team. Milo was happy that I freshened up his snow trail, and he ran around in circles for a while before heading inside. It’s Day Two of all-day sweatpants, and later on, as soon as the road plow comes down again, I’ll head out once more to plow the driveway. If the forecast is correct, that should be it until November.
For most of us who have lived here all of our lives, this isn’t great, but it’s not anything worth whipping ourselves into a frenzy. This is New York. It snows here. I doubt they send out crews of reporters in cabana shorts and Panama hats when it’s hot in Florida, so I don’t see the big deal. When it snows like this, my guess is that it would be a heck of a lot better if people would dial it back a notch, go slower, and take it easy. Stay home, if possible. Most of these storms only last a day or two, and by then, the roads are clear and it’s smooth sailing once again. Another way to look at it is simple: In a month we’ll all be mowing our lawns.
I live on a cul-de-sac (which is French for a sack of culs). When the town plows the road, the truck runs around in a dizzying series of concentric circles for about five minutes and leaves a messy pile of snow in the center of the circle. There isn’t much else he can do with it.
At the end of the day today, a huge front-end loader came down the street and sculpted a large mountain of snow, it being at least three stories tall at the moment. In an unexpected act of courtesy, the operator back-bladed one side of the mountain so that it’s smooth. Why? Because if you had a lot of snow and a large piece of construction equipment, wouldn’t you make a sledding hill for the neighborhood kids? Of course you would.
For the record, we were hit with slightly over two feet of snow.