Posts Tagged ‘Snow


Philly’s Snow Panic Brings out the Best and Worst

Over the recent weekend, Philadelphia got its second-worst snowfall ever (since they started keeping such records in the early 19th century). If forecasts are correct and we get another foot or more today, we’ll be on track to break a record for annual snowfall.

So, we pull on our boots and dig ourselves out.

With only 14 feet of sidewalk in front of our house, it’s no big deal to shovel and salt our walk and the neighbors’ on either side. On Sunday, half a dozen people on the block took up their shovels and started hacking at our tiny, narrow street. There’s no chance of getting a plow around the corner, so it’s down to us.

There was some real community spirit out there for a few minutes. I didn’t know anyone’s name, and we didn’t even all speak the same language, but we all had a common purpose. Kids were bouncing around like puppies. Neighbors were talking.

There are not many places you can shift two and a half feet of snow. There’s only so much room between the snowed-in cars parked along one side. We were forced to dump a lot of it on the curbs, knowing we’d have to tidy up the sidewalks again.

And then the daisy chain was broken.

Continue reading ‘Philly’s Snow Panic Brings out the Best and Worst’


Now That’s Entertainment!

Maybe the cat has the right idea, perched on the radiator, watching the snowfall this morning through slitted eyes. She twitches just the tip of her tail from time to time as I might tap my finger. Not bored, but content. And maybe a bit expectant.

One can see the snow only against the buildings and cars and the skeletons of trees. Glancing skyward, it seems to disappear against the gray. But it’s there. Traffic is quiet; schools are closed: the world in slow-motion. I already hate the rain that will come later to beat it down and flush it away.

Actually, she might just be staring at the wall across the alley.

Still, I suppose the principle is the same.



SnowToday when I woke up, there was a fine dusting of snow on the ground and on the rooftops and in the trees. As if on cue, the night of December 1 was the first occasion of snow accumulation in New York City. I couldn’t be more delighted.

I watched Fargo again last night for the first time in years. Ignoring for a moment the more gruesome elements of the story, and my absolute adoration of Frances McDormand‘s Marge Gunderson, it is primarily for me a strong reminder of Minnesota winters. Minnesota is not exactly the remote, desolate wasteland the Coen brothers would have you believe. There is a lot of open country along those highways. And, sure, you can take your life in your hands driving from Minneapolis to Leech Lake in the dead of a December night. But winter is a time of year that brings most Minnesotans to life. A state with so many lakes to freeze knows how to live it up when the temperatures get down.

All it takes to put me in a good mood is the random occurrence of rising moisture on the cold side of a low pressure system and the freezing of water vapor condensation into six-sided crystals heavy enough to fall to the surface of the earth. I’m not asking for much, really. Yet as simple and random and, frankly, common as it is, snowfall never fails to delight and inspire me.

I think what is less common and more remarkable is the stillness. For lightweight snowflakes to fall so gently in a more or less straight line, things have to be pretty calm. It’s worth taking a few minutes to notice and appreciate — especially in the city. Five floors up, the world is impressively silent and peaceful. Some of the larger flakes are swirling around as they meet the building and flirting with the window panes on their way to the courtyard below. There is a cat, big, fat and lazy, on my lap, and I am drinking strong coffee, listening to Ella Fitzgerald sing about something that came upon a midnight clear. I am definitely a northern lad, grateful for snow. I pity the South.


It’s Snowing in the Bathroom

I work on the top floor of a 19th century building tenement building converted into office space. Lots of quirks. Lots of character. One colleague’s office has a sink. There are random non-functioning fireplaces scattered about the premises. That kind of thing. And I thought I had seen it all until this morning, when I walked into the bathroom (which includes a shower) nearest my office to blow my nose and felt little crystals of dropping down all around me. It was like Winona Ryder stumbling out into the backyard while Edward Scissorhands is carving an ice sculpture. (Well… all right. On a much smaller scale.) Apparently, when the wind picks up, ice particles are getting through a crack in the seal on the skylight.

the untallied hours