The Sunny Side of Snow Days
Record snowfalls. Porches, roads
driveways slicked with ice. Frigid air.
Will the groundhog see his shadow this month? I think not.
I was happy to awaken to a steady snowfall in early
December. Until I remembered I was supposed to speak to a group of Rotarians
at The Homestead that morning. I have a four-wheel-drive vehicle. I bought
it for just such occasions. Yet, I’m afraid to drive it in the snow. The car
is some sort of “smart” vehicle, which somehow “knows” when to kick into
four-wheel-drive. I guess my car is smarter than I am.
My mind kicked into 4WD that morning. And hit upon the
perfect solution: I called the hotel concierge. “If you want me to speak to
the Rotarians, could you please send a car?”
I knew transportation professionals were already out there
on the snowy roads, ferrying hotel guests from one venue to another. What’s
I expected a van, or a pick-up truck. What I saw in my
driveway was a Lincoln Navigator. Nothing like arriving in fine style.
The morning of Dec. 18, we were warned to expect snow, and
lots of it, across Virginia. People got excited, in a dread-full sort of
way. The first thing everyone did was run to the grocery store. I hear that
Walmart ran out of eggs and bread. Imagine!
I had to cover court all day. I
ran by Valley Supermarket during lunch, to fetch my own necessities:
Diet Coke, ham, cheddar cheese, and Blow Pops.
The place was packed; not a single cart was available. The threat of snow
was in the air.
“How many inches?” people asked each other.
“I heard tell 17,” was the stock answer.
The snow gods have cheated us these past few winters. A
dusting, or a couple inches here and there, always after Christmas, always
spoiling plans to head out of town for some excitement. I was secretly
thrilled to hear tell of 17 inches. I would snuggle by the fireplace with my
cuddly dog, my Blow Pops, and some books to read.
That necessitated a trip to the library, where I
discovered the second-most-popular pre-snowstorm destination. People were
teetering out the door with books piled up under their chins.
I had told the judge that morning, “Don’t take it
personally, but as soon as I count five snowflakes out the window, I’m outta
Attorneys, defendants, reporters, bailiffs, the judge
himself — we all kept watchful eyes on the window. There were no snowflakes.
And suddenly, there were 5,000. I scurried home, lucky to navigate the nine
miles before the roads became impassable.
The snow poured from the sky throughout Friday, and all of
Saturday, until early Sunday morning. And that predicted 17 inches? Think
again. Depending where you could measure, we had between 27 and 38 inches.
This spelled doom for last-minute Christmas shoppers. I
was grateful not to lose electricity, but my satellite dish became buried
under snow. Despite a pile of books to read, I missed watching the news, not
to mention the “Survivor” finale.
About four days into it, I got stir crazy. I put on
knee-high boots that were still not tall enough, armed myself with a broom,
and trudged out to the shed, where I keep two ladders. These ladders are for
hired handymen to use. I have never operated them myself, but I planned to
learn that day. I had my eye on that dish. It was slow-going toting a heavy
ladder 40 feet, through 30 inches of snow. When I finally reached my
destination, I discovered that, even teetering atop a rickety ladder, I
wasn’t tall enough to do the job.
Two days later, I called a tall, helpful neighbor. He
seemed happy to get out of his own house and trudge up to mine. He made
quick work of sweeping off the dish, and then, he asked the most wonderful
question I’d heard all winter.
“I’m going to the dumpsters,” he mentioned. “Do you want
me to take your trash?” This, my friends, is what’s known as a “snow angel.”
I found two snow angels that day. The other showed up in a big, antique
tractor and cleared my driveway. He wouldn’t take any money, so I force-fed
him homemade peanut butter cookies.
Forecasters say February will be warmer than normal,
ushering in an early spring. I hope the groundhog agrees.