Snow was falling in giant flakes when the Wednesday Morning Breakfast and Philosophical Society left the diner this week. Huge flakes left wet dents in the concrete where they splattered against the planet.
The suggestion of coming Winter hinted of seasons past, when snow would already be piled, sometimes feet at a time. Winters like those, even where, as a lad, I experienced them, do not happen anymore.
The evening news once talked of how many feet of snow would fall on New York, or Boston, or Duluth. Now, to take advantage of technology previously unknown, forecasters walk among monitors the size of living room walls and tell us of lesser storms and how many millions of people the storm will effect.
It sounds more apocalyptic to say 40 million people will be affected than to say snow will fall across five states.
About 20 years ago, a terrific ice storm coated upper New England states, requiring parades of electricity company crews from as far as South Carolina to help restore power to the people. Even then, the atmosphere had become warm enough that what would earlier would have been snow was only rain that froze when it touched the ground.
In 1993, a killer storm blanketed the part of Pennsylvania I now call home.
That was before I arrived here. The year I arrived in Adams County, a 14-inch snowfall one Saturday buried the parking lot of my apartment complex and was gone by Monday morning, only the plow piles remaining.
In 2010, a triple-header enveloped the area, three snowstorms in two days, virtually locking the place up for most of a week as road crews used frontloaders to shovel snow off the roads. “Snowmageddon,” it was called.
Television needs spectacle – to make events sound more catastrophic than they really are, but I keep hoping it would make more of why Christmas is not as white as it once was. Instead, they talk of warm sunny days in December as “nice.”
As a lad, I lived in a family of six in a town so small the “Welcome to” and “Come Back Soon” signs were on the same two-by-four. We’d have used a four-by-four, but the year the expense was on the budget, we could only raise enough for the smaller post.
Snow plow drivers did not start their truck motors until there was three inches on the ground and more falling.
Snow started falling with the start of hunting season in November, sometimes two feet or more at a time. In February, the really heavy snows fell. Six inches in six hours was bot abnormal. Six hours was the time required for a plow truck to navigate half the town. It took slightly longer on the north half, where I think there were more dead-end roads to slow the rigs.
One year, so the story goes, the snow was falling so fiercely that by the time Jack Howard reached the end of his route, he couldn’t tell where the snow banks ended and the drifts began. He’d plowed a quarter mile into a pasture before he realized the road had turned left and he hadn’t.
This old country boy is in second childhood, now. As a lad, I hated running the snowthrower, probably because it was Mom and Dad’s idea. Eventually, in what is euphemistically called “middle age,” I enjoyed running the machine in the moonlight, its rumble softened by the falling flakes. I’m back to it being a chore I’d as soon avoid.
But I still enjoy walking in the stuff, and might countenance a grandfatherly snowball fight
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