Last Saturday, we were told to expect the first “real snow” of the winter season here in New England. Meteorologists predicted 4 – 8 inches. Though not exactly fun, we’ve had worse. Much worse. As the sky turned slate gray and the first flakes began to fall, I settled in to finish writing last week’s post, read a bit … and, of course, nap.
I had plenty of food to get me through until the next day when I’d head out and re-up my stores. In fact, I thought, I might even be able to manage a late-night workout, once this thing fizzles out.
Well, about midnight, I did venture down to brush off the car and head out to the gym.
Only the door didn’t open.
Moonlight shone blue across the surface of deep, deep snow. (We were later to find that the official reading was 16 inches.)
Still, determined, I tromped back up the stairs, got out of my workout clothes, slid some old jeans on over sweatpants and donned a hoodie under my overcoat. Then I headed out to show that snow who was boss.
Things had wound down to little more than brittle flurries. That was thanks to the fact that, as my phone alerted me, it was now 2°F — too cold for much new snow to form.
I grabbed the shovel and became aware as I looked around that the drifts on the porch weren’t the worst of it by a long shot. I cleared the porch but couldn’t tell where the platform I was standing on ended and where the steps began. As I shuffled toward the invisible edge, I had that feeling of wading out too far into the ocean and taking that first step that drops into the abyss.
I plunged downward and was suddenly knee-deep in the stuff. It was abundantly clear that I’d be going nowhere tonight.
I slogged toward the car. As the frigid wind howled, I assessed. There’d be no place to shovel the snow other than into the hedgerow. Just too deep to throw it anywhere else.
I’ll be honest: the “hearty New Englander” in me began to crack. We were barraged the winter before last with a freak series of unrelenting blizzards that lasted months and dumped a total of over 11 feet of snow, and I felt the edges of PTSD tapping on the frosted glass of my resolve. Despite the gloves I wore, pain was already shooting through freezing fingers. And no amount of sniffling was now enough to stem the flow of snot from my nose.
It was not only deep, it was heavy. The snow brush bowed as I ran it across the hood of the car, sending vibrations up my arm (my hand itself being numb) that I knew meant beneath the smothering snow, the car was also encased in ice. Then that first swipe was interrupted as the Lincoln ornament snapped off and catapulted somewhere into the bushes, lost (sorry, Mom).
I’m not sure if I started crying at that point, since my eyes were already stinging and watering furiously …