|We have become intimate with snow during this historic winter.|
We have grown quite intimate with snow during this historically bitter winter in the Philadelphia region, full of blizzards and frigid temperatures—a season that has left me numb in body and soul. If I never hear the words “polar vortex” again, it will be too soon.
I recently saw on the local news that a decrepit row house in West Philly actually collapsed due to the weight of ice on its roof. I’ve had friends whose pipes have frozen and burst; friends who lost power for a week after an ice storm, only to return home to find their pipes had burst; and a friend who invited me to a “Frozen” movie sing-along—an invitation I politely declined.
I’m tired of scraping the windshield of my minivan and shoving snow off its roof. I’m tired of space heaters. I’m tired of leaning out an upstairs window to whack pregnant icicles from our eaves with a baseball bat. I’m tired of scrubbing up salt that people have tracked onto our wood floors. I’m tired of wetting my wool socks in little puddles of snow melting inside. I’m tired of bundling up my children so just their faces are exposed to make them play outside, only to have my youngest tell me her teeth are cold.
As we watched our kids descend a wintry slope on plastic sleds during yet another recent cancelled day of school, a friend called to his son, “You'd better enjoy this! It’s the last snowfall of the season.
“I keep saying that, and then it snows again,” the father then turned to me and said.
“So you’re to blame for all of this,” I answered bitterly, before hollering at my first-grade twins to watch out for a tree they were racing toward in their toboggan.
Luckily, they missed it, but my friend’s prediction proved wrong. We got another few inches of snow and sleet the next day, piled on top of the three feet or so already encircling our house.
“We’re in sore need of some snow around here,” one of our garbage men joked to me the other day, as I scrabbled over a frozen bank the height of my 3-year-old to retrieve our cans. I chuckled in spite of myself. But lately I haven’t been finding much to laugh about.
“At some point, we need to sit down and have a serious talk about moving,” my husband said to me at 11 the other night, after the snow had finally stopped and after he had shoveled out our driveway for the umpteenth time so that he could get to work the next morning.
We do have a snowblower stored in our garage, but after filling it with fresh gas, changing the oil and replacing spark plugs, it remains stubbornly broken, leaking a rancid fluid all over the ground. We did find a small engine repair guy who said he would take a look at it—if we could get it to him—which we couldn’t before the last blizzard that dropped another 10 inches on our area.
“What’s the status of the snowblower?” our neighbor, retired and fit (he runs marathons), calls and asks without fail before each impending storm. Why he can’t take the machine, in which he owns a part share, to be fixed remains a mystery. And we find ourselves answering the phone and reluctantly replying, “still broken,” each time he rings.
So we’ve been straining our backs and our nerves clearing paths around the perimeter of our wide property and our driveway this winter, often multiple times a week. ‘Who needs CrossFit?’ I ask myself, lower back aching as I shakily prop a book on my knees at bedtime.
Running outside has become an exercise in defying death—or at least a broken hip—as each time I go the course varies with the texture of the ice, the depth of the snow, the humor of the drivers who make way for me on the banked and narrowed roads.
I’ve considered building a luge track from our roof into our backyard. In fact, the silver lining in all of this is that snowbound, with days and days off school, we’ve been able to watch a lot of the Olympics. My husband and kids even constructed their own rendition of the winter games out of LEGOs.
But it has reached the point where my twins don’t even cheer any more when classes are cancelled yet again. “We’re missing our Valentine’s Day party,” Georgia, 7, wailed on Friday. I consoled her with some Hershey’s Kisses.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” my lovely, elderly neighbor proclaimed from her doorstep a couple of weeks ago, staring out at the sun sparkling on the winter wonderland as I shoveled her driveway. “I just love the snow.”
By now, however, even she has changed her mind. “I don't think I'd like Florida,” she said when I checked on her the other day, “but New Mexico! New Mexico would be nice!”