Ankle-Deep Reflections

Winter. It seems like this season, Connecticut is experiencing something almost normal. Right now, we’re ankle-deep in the beginning of what weather forecasters predict will go down in the record books.

Growing up in New England makes you tough. It snowed often and we were always prepared. I’m not sure when this photo was taken, but it might have been right around the Blizzard of 1978. I remember that storm produced so much snow, that we could not open our back door. It made for some amazing snow tunnels and igloos.

Waiting for the snow to begin.

Waiting for the snow to begin.

Since winters in New England sometimes began in October and stayed until late April (we’ve had a few white Easters!), we should just expect that some winters will be worse than others.

This was taken on May 17, 2002, when we lived in northern Massachusetts.

This was taken on May 17, 2002, when we lived in northern Massachusetts.

We had a snow drought last winter, and storms like the one we’re dealing with today is just Mother Nature playing the laws of averages. Without enough winter precipitation, local springs and reservoirs won’t get the springtime snow runoff, and we could face low levels of fresh water later in the year.

Snow, snow, and more snow! January, 2011.

Snow, snow, and more snow! January, 2011.

The Bipolar Nature of Snow

Rarely anything brings as mixed emotions as snow. Holiday songs refer to snow as both “frightful” and a “Winter Wonderland.” It quietly covers everything it touches. Even in the fury of blinding snow and wind, it still feels peaceful.

As kids, we anticipated every possible forecast with the hopes that there would be snow. Waking up on snowy mornings, we listened intently to the morning radio, hoping that school would be cancelled. For some reason, I always associate those mornings with the smell of cinnamon rolls. I don’t know if it was coincidence that mom made them on such mornings, but it sticks in my memory. I remember the smell permeating the room as we waited for the newscaster to announce our school’s name. It seemed as if we were always the last one to give in, and just made the day so much more glorious once we bundled up and got outside.

As adults, however, we are only too aware that snow can also quietly destroy everything it touches. The very grown-up feeling of worrying about loved ones or your own personal safety is sobering.

Weather of all kinds hurt people and property alike, but there’s something about a heavy, prolonged snowstorm that can cause widespread devastation and disruption of lives. We’ve hosted quite a few major weather events in the past couple of years. I recognize that heavy weather (heck, even a light dusting of snow) can be dangerous to everyone and everything in its wake.

Lessons Learned

I remember when we moved into our first house in northern Massachusetts. The previous owners had left a weird-looking rake in the garage. We also had noticed heavy black wires on the roof. As we had closed on the house and moved in during a major ice/snowstorm, we quickly figured out their purposes.

Ken shoveling our roof in Massachusetts, December 2002.

Ken shoveling our roof in Massachusetts, December 2002.

The first was a roof-rake, demonstrated by my hubby in the above photo. You can see how deep the snow it – it hits his mid-thigh. The area we had moved to was rather close to New Hampshire, and therefore was in some sort of “snow hole.” The snow came quickly and frequently, and took much, much longer to go away. That winter, we saw endless reports of businesses and homes collapsing under the weight of the snow.

As the snow accumulated on our roofs – sometimes as much as two feet – we were thankful for those wires, which turned out to be “roof warmers.” They heated up, helping melt the snow from below, helping it dissipate and then slide off the high-pitched roof. It didn’t take us very long to get used to the sound of tons of snow sliding off the house, though it took our kitty a while.

Digging out to go to work, 1998.

Digging out to go to work, 1998.

It’s no secret that weather can kill and injure people, sometimes many at once. It can wreak havoc on local and long-distance travel, closes schools and businesses, can cause billions of dollars in damaged property, lost wages and profits, and just make life difficult. We used to joke that it took at least a foot to close anything down, and photos like above are an example of that.

The Serenity Prayer

How does it begin? “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” Sometimes, Mother Nature sends us a message. No matter how much the human race advances, no matter how smart the technology we develop, nature will always win. The Halloween Blizzard in 2011 cut our power for seven days, as well as deprived millions of people for as long as two weeks. There was literally nothing that we could do until we dug through the snow, cleaned up the debris and fallen utility poles, restrung all the wires, and finally rejoined the land of the lighted.

We almost lost our beloved Cherry tree in October 2011.

We were lucky, aside from some downed trees in the backyard, the only other damage was to our Cherry tree, which split down the middle under the weight of heavy snow on the leaves. We were able to save it with a lot of work. October 30, 2011.

Regardless, New Englanders are hearty bunch. Like our little tree, it takes a lot to bring us down, and even more to bring us down.

If you look closely, you can see the birdie nibbling from the bird feeder.

If you look closely, you can see the birdie nibbling from the bird feeder.

I am thankful that we were able to save our tree, because it serves as a refuge and feeding station for our local bird population. I am also thankful that, despite living in an area where, weather-wise, just about anything can happen, we seem to persevere.

The people of New England have been through a lot, and we’re sturdy enough to be able to withstand blizzards, hurricanes, and everything else in between. We’re even strong enough to notice the beauty in nature, appreciate the calm before the storm, and enjoy the glorious moment of quiet sunshine during the eye of a hurricane.

Be safe out there, my fellow New Englanders, and don’t forget to take a moment to enjoy the view. I know you will!

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