Blizzard of Oz-Round Deux

Heavy, wet snow clings to trees, causing power outages all around. Not a fun way to spend a blizzard,

UPDATE: Heavy, wet snow clings to trees, causing power outages all around. Not a fun way to spend a blizzard,

You know, you really haven’t lived until you have been witness to the pre-blizzard shopping habits of Midwesterners. Since this current blizzard gave even more advance notice than the one last week, people had all weekend to contemplate the couple of days they are going to spend sheltering in place when it drops another foot or so of snow down on the bone-dry streets.

Another foot of snow beginning to fall. Note the bird in the dogwood tree. Bird block party going on at the feeders all week. Downy woodpeckers, cardinals, black cat chickadees, tufted tit mice, phoebes, bluejays, flickers, robins, mourning name it, it was chowing down on suet and seed.

Another foot of snow begins to fall. Note bird in dogwood tree. Bird block party going on at the feeders all week: downy woodpeckers, cardinals, black cat chickadees, tufted tit mice, phoebes, bluejays, flickers, robins, mourning doves…you name it, it was chowing down on suet & seed.

I ventured out to Costco late yesterday morning, a Sunday, only to find it a veritable mob scene. Normally, it’s pretty quiet at that moment during the weekend since most people would be at church, possibly praying for an alternate weather pattern.

On this day, however, the parking lot was packed with more than a few cars parked cattywampus–yeah, you heard me right—abutting giant snow mountains deposited by snowplows about its perimeter.

The critical driving issue in most lots is the blindspot created by these snowpiles, which conceal the frantic shoppers lurching from behind them and make competition-level space-spotting in the narrow plowed paths fairly treacherous.

So, when I surveyed the Costco lot, I knew the local media had whipped everyone into a frenzy with their European Computer Models and snowfall calculations in the double digits and shrieks of keywords, like “Bread!”, “Milk!”, “Eggs!”.  Then when the national press descended to scoop existing snow with their mittened hands on camera before the first new flake had fallen, well, that’s never a good sign.

Throughout the rest of that day and into today, stores were packed with panicked shoppers and carts careening down aisles at Daytona speeds. Predictably, shelves were bereft of bread and freezers devoid of milk and eggs.  Hardware stores reported near rumble conditions among the men circling the few remaining snowblowers.

We’ve taken all precautions: snow implements are cleaned and at the ready for use during the post-blizzard dig-out. Vast quantities of bread, milk, and eggs are stored and the pantry is bulging with all manner of food for any potential blizzard condition with or without power.

I’m guessing no one will need to grocery shop again for at least another month.

Snow falling again after we just moved 1 foot of it off the upper deck!

Snow falling again after we just moved 1 foot of it off the upper deck: argh.

Shoveling ahead...when the snow stops. We'll clear this first, then rake snow from the roof. That will dump a couple of feet here and then we'll shovel it off the deck again.

Shoveling ahead…when the snow stops. We’ll clear this first, then rake snow from the roof. That will dump several feet and then we’ll shovel it off the deck again.


Blizzard of Oz Redux

Flat Rock Creek snowfall

Today brings a well-publicized winter storm, already living up to its hype. This serene view from Flat Rock Creek belies the vehicular chaos reigning on area highways, many of which are now closed down and littered with abandoned cars. Schools, malls, bus routes, and even the airports have closed as the snowfall per hour ramps up.

This has been named Winter Storm “Q” by the Weather Channel because they couldn’t think of an actual name beginning with the letter “Q.” I suggest they root around the archives of early Sesame Street episodes during the next break between storms.

I guess I’m OK with a storm that sounds like the name of a James Bond villain. I am not so enamored of one inspired by the name of the transit line a national weather celebrity back east took to get to work.

Thanks anyway, Weather Channel. I am going to stick with a moniker that resonates in these parts and recycle the one we used two years ago, the last time this kind of storm dropped more than a foot of snow and brought the entire region to a halt: Blizzard of Oz.

It fits and offers just a bit more metaphoric bang for the buck.

Stay safe and warm throughout this storm, my fellow Midwesterners!

(See my daughter wield a mean snow rake below. Oh, yes, there are such things and they really work by pulling snow off your roof to prevent dreaded ice dams.)

Snow Rake 2013

Not Yet Winter Weary

The snow is falling out of the sky in every possible direction.  Flakes of various sizes, few weighty enough to make it to the ground, are drifting and dropping by my window at different speeds and angles.  It’s as if even the snow is confused by the ferocity of this year’s winter.  So much of it already blankets roofs and yards, with drifts as high as our mailbox, you have to wonder where the next round is going to find room to land.

The winter break this year has felt like one continuous snow event as the prevailing temps have prevented melting even on the few days it hasn’t snowed.  The kids have lost count of how many times they’ve shoveled the driveway and the deck and removed snow from under the windows and off the lowest eaves of the roof.  Vestiges of snows typically evaporate within days because the air rarely stays cold enough to preserve them.  Sledding and snowmen generally require immediate action because they are so very shortlived. 

Winters here were not always this way.  My childhood was full of snowball fights and snow forts and snowfolks who hung around long enough to make a fashion statement in the yard by sporting someone’s old hat and scarf.  Car tires were encased in webs of chain to permit steady movement down streets that by and large remained unplowed. 

In fact, it was cold enough long enough throughout those winters for my father to invest in ice skates for my younger brother and me and take us skating in the evenings on a local pond.  We would skim gingerly across the rough ice, stopping periodically to warm our hands over fires set in metal barrels scattered around the edges of the pond.   We’d drink hot chocolate when we finished and watch my dad expertly wing his way around the pond a few times by himself before we left. 

During a particularly temperate winter a few years back, I wondered if I had merely dreamed these outings when I realized this pond had not frozen over to support ice skating in at least twenty years.

We do tend to find ways to spend whatever snow we have, though.  One afternoon last year, my husband slithered on his stomach through the snow at the creek’s edge with some modicum of stealth so he could capture photographs of a red-tailed hawk devouring a rabbit carcass.  While this effort ultimately yielded a fascinating documentary of nature, graphically red in tooth and claw, it was later determined that these images were far more suitable for display in his office than in the family room.

This year, he elected to take our dog Duncan on what was ostensibly to be a walk or perhaps a prance on the snow-covered path running parallel to the creek.  Instead, the dog momentarily frolicked unfettered in the snow and then spontaneously turned it into a gallop through the frigid creek waters, drenching himself in a semi-frozen concoction of burrs and mud.  Needless to say, a warm bath ensued upon his arrival home. 

You must understand how grossly uncharacteristic this was for Duncan to be so adventurous in the snow.  Normally, he seems to think he’ll melt should he venture beyond the backdoor on a snowy day.  He makes a couple of runs at it, and, finally, when his bladder convinces him otherwise, he tentatively places a paw onto the deck, glancing back with some trepidation before he gets up his courage and charges down the steps.

Now Nigel and Miranda, they were some serious snow dogs. As a toddler, my son marveled at their playfulness on snowy days as he pressed his nose against the sliding glass door and watched them nuzzle under and then romp through the drifts.  My son drew the line at ingesting snow, however, and never failed to call them out on it.  “Dogs eat (s)no000000w.  Ewwwww!” he’d proclaim when he caught them in the act.  

But because the inordinate cold this year has left the snow a dry white powder rather than a brownish grey slush, I’ve not yet reached the point of despair which typically arrives sometime in February when consecutive days of cloud cover tamp down my spirit and endless puddles of sludge cake my car with a thick film of dirt.  T. S. Elliott can say whatever he likes about April being the cruelest month; at Flat Rock Creek, February gets my vote hands down.

So, although my suede boots already bear salt lines from my trudges through the grocery store parking lot and the temperature is barrelling down to below zero, for the moment I’m still enjoying winter in my warm, cozy office which offers out its window yet another serene view of the snow, as of now undisturbed by dog paws or rabbit tracks.