Ralph Gardner Jr: Snow Day

Jan 26, 2019

Credit WAMC

Snowstorms are more complicated than they used to be. I’m not referring to the weather, though that, too. I read that because of global warming we can expect more balmy winters, or at least balmy Decembers, followed by blizzards and bone chilling polar vortexes, or is it vortices, later in the season.

No, the complication I’m speaking of is going on Facebook or Instagram and having to suffer photographs and commentary from your friends and acquaintances of them lolling on the beach in Belize or floating on their backs in Cozumel.

Perhaps the problem is that I’m a bad person. I should be happy for my friends that they’re enjoying themselves and getting a tan while I fret that, after the snow ceases and the wind begins to howl, the electricity is going to go out and the pipes freeze because yet another season has passed that I’ve failed to invest in a generator.

I’m confident that the only reason they’re posting images of azure seas and golden sunsets, sometimes filtered through the prism of a pina colada garnished with a cocktail umbrella, is because they want to share their happiness and because they know their friends will be just as joyous and fulfilled living vicariously through their adventures as if we’d boarded a plane ourselves and were buffeted by the welcoming breezes of the Bahamas.

Did I mention that I’m not such a person? I’m the envious sort. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy for you that you afford a bike trip through Thailand and sticky rice with the locals. But I would prefer it were me.

Does this make me petty? Perhaps it does. However, in my own defense when I travel I try to keep it to myself. Of course, I have no control over what other family members post. But my particular conceit is that people who didn’t get their first passport stamped and boarded their first airplane yesterday don’t need to brag about it.

Actually what you just heard is a long-winded introduction to testifying that while I’m no more immune than the next guy to feelings of superiority on the charmed occasions when I’ve been swimming with colorful parrotfishes in the Caribbean knowing it’s blizzarding back home, there are few things that fill me with the anticipation of knowing that I’m available for a good snowstorm; that one promising a foot or more of precipitation is on the way.

As it was last weekend. If global warming has any positive consequences it’s this: after a non-eventful, almost non-winter weather-wise through Christmas and New Year’s, I was chaffing for a good old, honest-to-God Snowmageddon. Not one where the lights go out, of course, or a foot of ice sends tree limbs crashing through the roof but just about anything else.

Think about it. If the allure of the tropics is measured in trappings such as palm trees and water the color of breath mints what we’re known for up north besides, of course, flinty self-reliance born of an often hostile climate, is the ineluctable beauty of falling snow and, once the sun returns, the way that source of warmth, light and life glints, jewel-like off freshly covered fields.

And there’s skiing, obviously. If adrenalin happens to be your thing it’s far easier to access bombing down a mountain than it is lolling by a swimming pool at Atlantis.

I’m not referring to their ten-story Mayan waterslide. But, again, speaking only for myself, my idea of exotic travel doesn’t include a waterpark, no matter how over-the-top or ubiquitously advertised.

Indeed, I can’t think of anything more delightful than the anticipation I feel with a major snowstorm on the way. I know that not everybody shares my sense of childlike wonder. For many it’s a nuisance, especially if they have to commute.

But part of its magic is that it serves as an enforced time-out from the pressures of the modern world. Being snowed in focuses one on life’s more subtle pleasures, things like a good book, a roaring fire and a late season football game if the electricity doesn’t die and I manage to survive accessing my roof and satellite dish to exfoliate it of the snow and inch-thick ice.

Among the actions I undertook ahead of last week’s storm was frequently to check the weather starting several days out and purchase a snow shovel at Lowe’s with one of those bent, ergonomic handles.

I also took a warm bath after checking the weather radar one more time and watching the blue mass on the screen, signifying the approach tempest, inch ever closer. There’s nothing that connects you to the cozier, more visceral memories of childhood than a bath as night falls and with it the first flakes heralding the oncoming storm.

Ralph Gardner, Jr. is a journalist who divides his time between New York City and Columbia County. More of his work can be found at ralphgardner.com

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.