Some Really Scary Stuff

>> Friday, February 5, 2010

So, once again, we are staring down the maw of a massive winter storm. Of course, living in south of the Mason-Dixon line, in the heart of the Confederacy, we are well-prepared for snow because we see it all the time.

Oh, wait. I forgot. That was when I lived in the north. Down here if a dog pees on the driveway and the temperature drops below freezing, the traffic will be backed up for hours. Certainly, the DC Metro area has had a lot of practice with snow, this year. All that rain that has been drowning us since last May just froze and kept on coming. Now, the snow budget is probably scraping the bottom, the plows are panting from unusual exertion, and the masses are panicking.

I am absolutely certain that by 5:00 PM there will be no milk, bread, or toilet paper within a 50 mile radius. Of course, everyone has to go TODAY to the store, even though the storm has been on the radar for at least 5 days. On our way home from a playdate, Toddler and I drove through the parking lot of the grocery store because I needed soy milk and cheese. That was close enough. I could have found a parking spot if I really wanted to -- at the end of the long lot -- and I thought about going in. Watching all the drivers line up to compete for the spots that didn't require walking the entire distance of the lot made me decide that soy milk and cheese were not worth risking body parts. We have Velveeta in the freezer, and I can run to CVS for fat free regular milk for one weekend. The lattes won't be as good, but we must all make sacrifices for the snow.

Of course, a snowstorm in this area is a rather scary thing. In general, I find snow here scarier than any other place I have lived. First of all, at the sign of a flake in the sky, every local business lets non-essential staff go home, clogging up all the highways before the salt trucks even have a chance, and no one sees anything wrong with that strategy. When I was working in an office, I used to wait until everyone else got home and out of my way before I'd leave my desk. I felt much safer that way.

We also have the issue of our house. We live on the Street The County Forgot. The plow will show up, if at all, three days after any major snow storm. Strangely enough, this fact means I have been snowed in more times while living in Virginia than I have living in Pennsylvania or Boston combined. Even my mother has it better, and she lives right next to the Township line. On her street, one plow comes from one way, from one township, hits the line, and turns around. Another comes at some other time, from the other way, hits the line, and turns around. If she's really lucky, the snow they leave behind piles up right at the entrance to her driveway, but at least she knows a plow is coming.

At the end of the day, I'm glad one of our neighbors has a snow blower. Yes, in Virginia, where it snows once every 5 years, he owns a snow blower. In fact, he owns every outdoor toy on the planet. I am glad he is our friend. If we do not see the snow plow after 3 days, this neighbor will blow two tire tracks up our street to the main road so we can all at least push each other's cars up the street toward civilization.

Then ... we have my other neighbor. He honestly and firmly believes that there is no snow pile his SUV cannot conquer, provided he gets a fast enough running start. I watched him test that theory during the last blizzard when he spotted a 4 foot snow pile in front of his driveway. (The plow had come freakishly early and decided to block him in because he parked his 3 cars on the street before the snow started. Actually, at first the plow blocked ME in because he thought they were my cars, but Neighbor Snowblower saw it happen and set the man straight. The plow guy drove back down and moved the snow one driveway over.) Anyway, I digress. We (those of us out shoveling), stood by and watched Neighbor Nutso barrel down the street, building steam, and hit the snow pile at 35 miles an hour. The front wheels made it to the driveway, but the back wheels did not. We all chuckled a little bit and continued shoveling our driveways out before going over to help. Does that sound mean? Perhaps it is, but Neighbor Nutso has never shoveled a sidewalkor a driveway in his life and never lends a hand to help anyone else, so we put him at the bottom of our list. I mean, my next door Neighbors, the Wonderfuls, shoveled my drive one day when we were out of town because they knew we wouldn't want to come home to a driveway we couldn't park in. Of course, they aren't stupid enough to think that driving an SUV makes you invincible, either.

Eventually we all made it over to Neighbor Nutso's house. Several men, with shovels and a lot of muscles, eventually extracted the SUV by pushing it back out into the street. We advised Neighbor Nutso to shovel his driveway, and some of us even offered to help him move the giant snowbank, thinking that at last he had learned some snow manners. He declined our offers and promptly returned to his SUV, backed it up, revved the engine, and took aim at the snowbank again. This time we all turned and walked away. Sometimes you just have to let someone spin their tires in the snow for awhile in the hopes of saving humanity.

Anyway, since we are expecting snowfall in the feet again (feet? did I say feet? AGAIN?), we will be out shoveling every few hours, or six inches, whichever first occurs. Most relocated northerners still do this out of habit -- shovel during the snowstorm so that we can stay ahead of the weight. We do not intend to leave this world via a heart attack brought upon by shoveling heavy, wet snow. I, for one, can think of much more fulfilling ways to go. Born and bred southerners have a different approach. They watch snow fall as long as it will, periodically throwing frisbees out the door so they can measure the snow on their dog's anatomy. When the snow covers the doorjamb and they can no longer open it to let the dog out, panic begins to set in. They start to wonder if the 7 loaves of bread and 700 rolls of toilet paper they bought yesterday will be enough to get them through.

Believe it or not, things used to be worse. When we first moved in, the power would go out with every strong breeze. Thankfully, that little issue has improved, but after once being without power for 5 full days from a hurricane that blew through (right after I had picture window-sized glass placed in the dining room, of course), we do stock carefully. I have more wood in my backyard then most of my neighbors have had in their house their entire lives. If we lose power, I will be warm. The house might burn down, but I and mine will be warm. If not, wood fires are still nice during December and January.

Happy Snowstorm.


Susan February 5, 2010 at 9:35 PM  

That's amusing Karin. People panick in this part of the country when it snows too(Seattle). But usually the snow is measured in inches and not feet. This year? No snow. I hope you survive and your latte's don't suffer too much.

Karin Kysilka March 28, 2010 at 6:22 PM  

I had a friend who commanded everyone to appear at the grocery store in the hours leading up to the first storm, regardless of whether we needed anything. After years of working for a grocery chain, he had concluded that (for whatever reason) attendance was mandatory. It was his only explanation for what he saw over the years. He may have a point.

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