AN ICONIC SNOW SHOVEL

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By midday yesterday, the kid had finished shoveling the roof. Of course, all that snow had to go somewhere. As he worked, I could see huge piles of it falling off the roof in a veritable avalanche.

snow shovel in oil

Our already mostly buried deck lost any semblance of a pathway. One had recently been dug so the kid with the shovel could get up onto the roof to shovel it. Now, with our ladder stuck in a snowdrift until spring and the shovel, like a pennant, at the top of the big drift … I hope we don’t need to get out of the house via the deck. Because it’s impassable.

snow shove solarized

Yet, somehow, I loved the image made by that big yellow shovel stuck in the snow. And of course, I had to take a few pictures.

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A final note. The ice dams are melting. Slowly, I admit, but there is a steady dripping from all of them. I am taking this as a harbinger of better days to come.

WINTER VIEW: A PHOTO A WEEK CHALLENGE

A Photo A Week Challenge: View

Right now, all my views contain snow. Deep snow, drifting snow. Snow so deep, it is almost above my head. If the forecast is correct, next week it will be deeper than I am tall.

Snow. The best and worst of winter.

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The view from my kitchen door the morning after a storm. The world is frosted. Ever branch and twig. Everything is frozen, waiting for spring to come.

snow view picture window front

And then, there’s the snow, through the front picture window. The snow has barely stopped. It’s as close to perfect as it will be. Until the next snowstorm.

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SILVER WHITE WINTERS THAT MELT INTO SPRING …

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: My Favorite Things, Verse Three

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes,

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,

Silver white winters that melt into springs,

These are a few of my favorite things.

I admit it. Right now? Snowflakes in any quantity are not among my favorite things. We have had quite enough snowflakes. More than 50 inches in just over a week.

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Is there more to come? We are trapped in the house. The oil company can’t get here to refill the fuel tank. It’s cold. Frigid. If we can’t clear a path for the delivery truck and a path for the guy who has to haul the hose to the fill point, we will run out of oil. A disturbing thought. Last year, that is what happened.

Owen cleared a path not once, but twice. But there was more snow and it filled the path with another foot of snow.

It’s so cold, the snow doesn’t melt. Just accumulates until the bottom layers are compressed to the point of becoming sheets of ice. It has stopped being beautiful to our eyes and become threatening, dangerous.

Beautiful, alluring, and full of dangers ...
Beautiful, alluring, and full of dangers …

More than a little frightening. And it will melt into spring … melt into overflowing rivers and flooded basements. Melt into endless mud that sucks the shoes right off your feet, grabs your tires and makes you car stick tight on the ground, going nowhere.

And in 7 weeks, there will be flowers.

Gold crocus

SNOW DAYS

Growing up in New York, snow days were a special treat. Of course, it snowed every winter, but snows deep enough to close school weren’t common. Once per winter, maybe.

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I would sit, nose pressed against the picture window, watching the snow pile up and hoping it wouldn’t stop. “Keep snowing, keep snowing,” I’d whisper. I wanted to wake up to a white world. To that hushed, near-silence of a morning following a heavy snow.

Finally, no school! We would put on all our winter clothing — at the same time. Back then, kids didn’t have as much clothing as they do now … and it wasn’t nearly as warm. When we were finally all bundled up, we’d clomp to the garage to get the sleds. Drag them to the hill at the end of the street.

And now, back to our snowstorm, about 14 hours in progress with another 12 to go.
And now, back to our snowstorm, about 14 hours in progress with another 12 to go.

It was quite a hill. Steep. Icy. You could go really fast if you were in the right position. If you got it perfect, you could almost fly. If you hit a rock or a ridge of ice, you might really fly. We didn’t think anything of it, no matter how many times we limped home, dragging our shattered Flexible Flyer behind us.

My feet always froze. They hadn’t invented insulated footwear or Uggs. Our coats were just cloth. Even wearing all the sweaters we owned, we were never entirely warm. I was usually the first kid to give up for the day. My feet would go from cold, to numb, to painful icy lumps. Hands, too. Galoshes leaked and my socks would freeze.

Worse, rubber boots had no tread. It was a thrill going downhill, but going back up would be increasingly difficult as the day wore on. Ice would glaze. Eventually, there was nowhere to walk where you could get any traction, not even along the curb.

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Sometimes I could get my big brother to haul my sled and me up the hill, but pretty quickly, he’d lose interest and go off with the big boys to do big boy stuff, whatever that was.

I was the smallest of the girls. Scrawny and short. I remember going home, and defrosting my feet in cool water. Wow, that hurt. I think I was minutes from actual frostbite. I don’t know how anyone lasted all day, but some kids did.

deck and snowy woods

That was almost 60 years ago. Hard to believe so much time has passed. I can still see it in my mind’s eye. A frozen memory. Especially on a day like this, the big picture window framing the snow as it falls. It’s falling fast and hard and has been for hours. Garry keeps going out to dig a path for the dogs. More than four feet of snow in just over a week.

It’s winter in New England. I live about 250 miles north of where I grew up. Snow days are a regular feature. When we have a particularly hard winter, kids have to go to school extra days at the end of the year to make lost time.

It’s snowing hard. I wonder how many inches this time?

THE WHICH WAY CHALLENGE: SNOWPOCALYPSE EDITION

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge: 2015 Week #4

Given the state of things around here, you expected pictures involving snow, right? And consider that I have the flu, it’s a given that I’m not going far to get the pictures. So here are some pictures from Snowpocalypse 2015.

The road is obliterated by snow. If you didn't know, you'd never guess a road exists here.
The road is obliterated by snow. If you didn’t know, you’d never guess a road exists here.
There's a hint of road. Maybe before spring, it will emerge from the ice crust.
There’s a hint of road. Maybe before spring, it will emerge from the ice crust.
Look! A road is emerging! Hark!
Still no road, oh woe. Lackaday!
Yet slowly, the road emerges.
Yet slowly, the road emerges.

BLIZZARD!!

Living in New England, in the heart of winter, there’s nothing unusual about a storm on the way. Apparently what’s unusual about this one is its magnitude. It’s supposed to be really big. How big?

blizzard 2015 map

Huge. Stretching up and down the entire coast and way out to sea. That is, until it comes ashore, something it is in the process of doing right now. They have cancelled school throughout New England for the next three days. Children are rejoicing throughout the region, but their parents are not quite as thrilled.

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The threat of hurricane force winds combined with massive snow accumulations makes most adults anxious. Or worse. It doesn’t matter how well prepared you are. Past a certain point, it’s not up to you. What will be, will be and you’ll just have to ride it out.

power outage warnings

I don’t remember so many super storms in the past. They happened, it’s true, but not storms the size of a continent. Not storm that affected most of the country at the same time. You can be as deep in denial as you like, but our weather has gotten weird, wild, and a bit frightening. We can argue as much as we like about whose fault it is, but it’s hard to ignore the evidence.

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It is snowing as I write this. Not as hard as it probably will later in the evening, but the roads are already slippery. It’s the layer on top of the layer that was left from a few days ago. That’s the way it goes here. Each snow becomes the ice layer under the next until eventually, the pavement is a distant memory.

Assuming I can get one of the doors open tomorrow, I’ll take some pictures. Very white pictures. I’m sure they will be beautiful.

BLIZZARD OF 1978 – GARRY ARMSTRONG

There’s a big storm coming. How big? Hard to tell, but definitely a very substantial snow event. This seems to be the time of year when the biggest storms hit this region. About 37 years ago, when a storm began moving into eastern Massachusetts on the afternoon of Feb. 6, 1978, thousands of people were let out of work early to get home before the storm. But traffic was, as usual, heavy and the snow began falling at over an inch per hour. Soon more than 3,000 automobiles and 500 trucks were stranded in rapidly building snowdrifts along Rt. 128 (same as Route 95). Fourteen people died from carbon monoxide poisoning as they huddled in trapped cars.


GARRY ARMSTRONG: 

There are so many incredible scenes that remain clear in my memory from the Blizzard of ’78.

I was smack dab in the middle of it from the beginning as one of the few reporters who could get to the station without a car. I lived just down the street and was able to slog through the snow to the newsroom. I found myself doing myriad live shots across Massachusetts and other parts of New England. I would like to give a special shout out to my colleagues who ran the cameras, the trucks, set our cable and mike lines, kept getting signals when it seemed impossible and worked nonstop under the most dire and difficult conditions. All I had to do was stand in front of the camera or interview people. I recall standing in the middle of the Mass Turnpike, the Southeast Expressway, Rt. 495 and other major arteries doing live shots.

There was no traffic. There were no people. Abandoned vehicles littered the landscape. It was surreal. Sometimes it felt like Rod Serling was calling the shots. The snow accumulation was beyond impressive. I am or was 5 foot 6 inches. I often had to stand on snow “mountains” to be seen. My creative camera crews used the reverse image to dwarf me (no snickering, please) to show the impressive snow piles. No trickery was needed. Mother Nature did it all.

Downtown Boston looked like something out of the cult movie “The World, The Flesh And The Devil”. The end of the world at hand. No motor traffic, very few people: just snow as high and as far as the eye could see.

Ironically, people who were usually indifferent to each other became friendly and caring. Acts of kindness and compassion were commonplace, at least for a few days. Those of us working in front or back of the camera logged long hours, minimal sleep, lots of coffee, lots of pizza and intermittently laughed and grumbled. There are some behind the scenes stories that will stay there for discretion’s sake.

The Blizzard of ’78 will always be among the top stories in my news biz career. It needs no embellishment. The facts and the pictures tell it all.

One more thing. It needs no hype or hysteria.