As we continue to dig out from Nemo here in the Northeast, I’m looking outside at a nice sunny day and the temperature in the 40’s. It always amazes me to see what a difference a couple of days can make. We had snow from early Friday morning until the middle of the day on Saturday, with plenty of wind to go along with it. When I finally got out and about, there was over two feet of snow, lots of fallen trees and tree limbs, and roads that were half as wide as they should be.
When the flakes finally stopped falling, my son, my wife and I went out to clear the driveway and dig out the cars, which you could barely even see. The snow was up to my mid-thighs in some places where it drifted and we had to go out the cellar door that’s covered by a deck because the front and side doors had so much snow against them we couldn’t open them. Fortunately, I have a snow blower. Unfortunately, since the snow was so deep it sputtered and choked and almost didn’t make it. It took us a little over two hours to get the driveway cleaned and the cars unburied. By the time we headed in, our faces were so frozen it was hard to complete simple sentences.
I’m not complaining. Last week just happened to be the 35th anniversary of the notorious Blizzard of 1978, and though we didn’t get that much more snow than Nemo dumped on us, that particular storm was much worse. In the aftermath of the Blizzard of 1978, it took six of us parts of two days to shovel the driveway and clean off the cars. We did have a huge driveway, probably big enough to fit ten cars easily, but we had no snow blower. We went out after breakfast and started shoveling, went in for lunch, and then went back out and shoveled until it was getting dark. For two days! Comparatively speaking, two hours with a snow blower doesn’t seem so bad, even if we were pretty cold.
I remember so many times as a kid when we were outside sledding or having snowball fights and we refused to go inside the house despite being numb from the cold. I think we knew that once we went in, we weren’t coming out again (unless we were playing ice hockey and just went home for lunch – that was different). We’d go in, take off all our wet, snowy clothes and sit in front of the fireplace. I swear that for the first ten minutes I couldn’t even feel the heat from the fire. I could have put my frozen feet right into the fire and not felt the flames, but the smell of flesh mixed with dirty socks might have been lethal to all of us. Mom would make us some hot chocolate and we’d sit there for a while and thaw out. That’s why once you were in, you were in for good.
It was all about choices at that point. You could sit in front of the cozy fire in some warm, dry clothes, or you could put on your still wet jacket, gloves and hat and go back outside into the cold. Though there were some instances we did go back outside, the decision to just stay put was fairly easy. Warm vs. cold; dry vs. wet. On those days, Swiss Miss Instant Cocoa (with mini marshmallows!) was like drinking liquid Godiva chocolate. There was nothing better. We sipped it slowly, not only because it was hot, but also because we just wanted to make it last.
Though the days of sipping hot chocolate in front of a roaring fire are long gone, snow storms in New England are not. We don’t get as many as we used to, or so it seems, but every once in a while we get whacked upside the head by a blizzard. For me, there’s no sledding, snowball fights or playing in the snow anymore, just a strong desire to be inside where it’s warm and dry.