Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What a difference a year makes

My mom, Saturday, February 5, 2011
More shoveling was still needed to allow the cars to pass
on the far side of the turnaround between me and where she is standing.
Behind her is the rest of the driveway down to the road.

A year ago today, about 2 in the afternoon, began a blizzard of "historic proportions" as it was later called. We had fair warning so were prepared. At the time, G and I were living with my parents for a few months while our house was being remodeled to improve accessibility for G. G's older daughter K and her middle child, P, a freshman at university in Utrecht, were visiting us during his school break, and they, being from Holland and not used to this kind of weather, were very excited that they would be experiencing a blizzard. We made sure we were home by 1pm on February 1st, stocked up with some games and movies, and then we waited for the storm to move in. And it did.

It was a wonderful feeling, knowing we were safe and warm inside and with no need to be anywhere else. We hung out in the family room, which has big windows overlooking the long view down my parents' front yard, so it was an impressive sight to see the snow move in, the high winds, impaired visibility, all while still light. It snowed all afternoon and all through the night, and stopped by mid-morning. When the sun came out, more than 20 inches of snow had fallen.

My parents have someone who, unasked, shows up with his Jeep and plows their driveway, which is about 200 feet long and has a turnaround near the house. We were glad to see him appear that morning, but surprised when, about a quarter of the way up the driveway, he stopped, got out, got back in, backed down the driveway, and drove away.

So K, P, and I bundled up, got some shovels, and started in on the driveway where the plow guy left off, thinking he would be back shortly once we cleared some of the mounds he had piled up. We kept shoveling, and shoveling, and shoveling. It was gorgeous outside, cold but not windy, bright snow, brilliant blue sky, and Oscar doing his best to chase squirrels through snow that was almost above his head. We let P, a big strapping 19-year-old, have the biggest shovel, I took the next biggest one, and K the smallest one. K and I would stop periodically to rest and enjoy the view, and so did P, but not as often as we did.

We shoveled all the way up the driveway and the side of the turnaround closest to the house, as well as the area in front of the garage. We thought the plow guy would be back, and my dad told us to leave the far side of the turnaround untouched.

By Saturday, 3 days later, with K and P safely back in Holland and no sign of the plow guy, I decided there was nothing for it but to finish the shoveling. My mom wanted to come out and help, so the two of us (and Oscar), spent an hour and a half or so and finished clearing the snow. It was fun to be doing this with my mom, and I know she felt great to be able to do the work. When we were done, we heard the roar of a snow blower from across the street, so we walked down the driveway with our shovels to offer our services to the neighbor. My mom knew he would say no but wanted to tease him a bit by us showing up with our shovels, ready to help.

I can't say I miss having a repeat performance of last year's storm. All this week we are above normal temperatures, in the 40's and 50's, and it is blissful. But I love remembering last year and how the blizzard played out.


  1. Wow! I cannot imagine that much snow. I am not sure I would be very much help with the shoveling. What little snow we get here, is so wet and heavy. It can bend the steel arches in our greenhouses.

  2. I remember that storm. The shovelling is such good exercise - and a challenge. Very satisfying when you're done. Our shovelling is complicated by the fact that we live on a main street, and when the county plows go by they throw up mixed salt and snow and ice from the road - and they go by again and again. In a big storm this can double the amount of snow on the sidewalk.

    The weather is strangely springlike up here today too. I do almost wish for a blizzard, just for the feeling of coziness you describe.


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