Let’s Talk about Snow
I just recently read two columns in our local paper, the Democrat & Chronicle, about Rochester’s obsession with snow. And while both columnists are at odds, neither of them embrace the snow. Neither of them talk about snow’s value, beauty and the impact on our culture in Upstate New York.
Both argue that the snow makes us crazy–that we panic, running out to the store to stock up on supplies, drive slow and dress in layers. Perhaps they have forgotten about “Snowmageddon” a few years ago. When places like New York City, Washington D.C. and Virginia were crippled by amounts snow that Upstate New Yorkers wouldn’t bat an eye at. Not that it’s their fault. They don’t have our experience and infrastructure. We don’t really panic–we just know snow and we know that the best way to handle it is to be cautious and prepared for anything. Like snowflakes, no two snow storms are alike and it is prudent to be prepared to expect the unexpected.
I have lived in upstate New York for as long as I can remember and I am still awestruck every year with how quickly and efficiently we clear the snow. We are experts at snow shoveling and ice scraping. But it’s more than that. We are patient in snow time. We know it may take longer to get there, we may have to jump a stranger’s car, give a friend a ride, or help someone stuck in a snow drift. Years ago, when I was living in Schenectady County, my car skidded off the road into a snow drift when I was in a hurry for an important job. It happens to everyone once in a while–doesn’t make you a bad a driver, it’s just the nature of driving in snow. Strangers pulled over and helped shovel me out. My employer was worried when I was late but understood once I explained what happened and was glad I was safe. Wouldn’t it have been so cool if the cities of Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse sent down snow removal crews to help out in NYC, DC and Virginia a few years ago (just like the strangers who helped me)–what amazing PR that would be for upstate New York! It would demonstrate our expertise and the best of our nature.
Of course we are obsessed with snow–it’s a big part of our lives (a quarter of our year) and we know it better than most. “I don’t think it’s going to work yet,” I said to my husband who was trying to make a snowman in December. “December snow is too fluffy, February snow is the best for making snowmen”
Just last week we were visited by snow storm Nemo (yep, they name snow storms too). Those who were able, my family included, left work early to give enough time for the slow and safe travel home. We know that sometimes that’s what it takes. You have to take your time. Once home we suited up in our appropriate layers (there’s an art to it–an art we have mastered), and we began to shovel our driveway and walkways, making sure to clear a safe path for the mailman. While outside our neighbor was snow-blowing her driveway–then she moved on to another neighbor’s house, and then another neighbor. She didn’t mind or complain–that’s just what people in Upstate New York do. Once the labor was done came the fun part. I pulled out the camera and got some nice shots of the newly fallen undisturbed snow. There really isn’t anything prettier. Oh sure it will turn gray and brown with time–but we know that for these brief moments the world will never look so enchantingly lovely. I even love how the air smells just after it snows–so crisp and clean. We took pictures of the snow on the trees but also of ourselves embracing and loving the snow. Playing in it, sitting in it, even lying down and making snow angels. No snow day is complete without following up with a cup of hot cocoa–which of course we had on hand. As I sipped on my hot cocoa and looked at all the lovely and fun pictures my friends were sharing on Facebook, I thought how lucky I was to live in a place with snow–not tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes (which have much less warning time to get prepared and aren’t as much fun).
And the best part about snow is–it doesn’t last. Soon it will melt and Spring will arrive with its lovely flowers (made much lovelier after snowy winter); then Summer will be here, with picnics and festivals; followed by Fall’s hot apple cider and playful colors. I would get tired of the same thing day after day–I love that the weather changes and with each season there are different opportunities to enjoy them.