Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Garden of Woes: How We're Doing With All That Snow

            We have fond memories of regulation winters. Usually around here, the Greater Boston area, you get a snowstorm, you shovel, the plows come, they plow the snow back into the spot you've just cleared; but you dig it out again, and after a few days the weather warms up a little, or it rains even, and the snow melts back. The road get slimy, wet, then clear; the sidewalks emerge except for the icy spots where too many footsteps landed in the same tracks laid by other feet. Those spots last for ages, mere memories of long-gone snowy days.
            Hope you're having a regulation winter somewhere else. And that you have enough firewood stockpiled (or fossil fuels delivered) to see you through any irregular cold spells. This place however is a complete mess.
             Have you been to Quincy? It's not New York City, but the houses are pretty close together. So when you get 70-something inches of snow in under 4 weeks, where do you put it all? The city doesn't know, the sidewalks are unusable, people walk down the streets with their ear buds in, cars can't get out of each others' way.
            In ordinary times our famously "changing" weather takes care of this issue for us. But this winter, starting from the last week of January -- before which we had zilch snow -- we are stuck in an upper-air "pattern." That's one word for it. What it feels like down below is atmospheric malevolence. Instead of a "change" in the weather that reduces the snow-load, and before any significant melting can take place, we get another huge snowdump. In ordinary winters some predicted storms fizzle, and most of them don't do to your neighborhood what they did to someone else's. This year each one comes in with all the predicted baggage.
            So after four of these two-footers (or near enough) we live behind a tunnel that stretches from the porch steps to the car, running between these two walls that we have created storm by storm by shoveling out our little lifeline. If we get beyond our walls to the thin ribbon of cleared space we used to call the "street" and look one way and then the other the whole street reveals the same design, snow walls peaking on either side of the driveways.
             I'm pretty sore from shoveling. The MBTA "Red Line" trains that Anne takes to work no longer arrive. She used to walk to the nearby station. Now I drive her into Quincy Center to catch the single "commuter line" train that stops there. Last week she was been able to get on these. Most everybody else lines up, with cold lengthy waits, to take 'shuttle buses' to the nearest station that the MBTA train still manages to reach. One day last week even the main streets were down to single lane so it took me half an hour to make the five-minute ride home and then while turning (big mistake) into our previously 'cleared' driveway I managed to wedge both front tires into the impinging walls, strengthened as they have become by the compacted snow the plows have rammed into them.
            I decide to leave the car where it is (sticking out into the diminished street), climb over the wall, since there was no other way to get into my tunnel, and go into the house for a period of coffee and reflection. Later I dug out both wheels of the car and two neighbors helped push me into my spot.
           The main streets are actually a little better this week, but the traffic is worse because the T no longer runs to Quincy or most of the other places on the Red Line. This morning Anne was unable to get on the only, over-filled commuter rail train, the buses to the next T station were packed, and we spent a half hour crawling toward the highway and not even getting close to the nearest exit before we gave up and went home. We'll try again in an hour. 
           For the record, this is what I thought last night: All in all, despite the hard traveling, which Anne still faces, we're safe and warm, and things could really be a lot worse (knock on wood).
            This morning they got a little worse. What, I didn't knock hard enough?