There’s something oddly ironic (perhaps flat-out hilarious) about finding myself here, in an uber-winter wonderland, in the very place where I had voluntarily chosen to spend this season, having reasoned that I’d be escaping the blistery winds and blizzards of more northern climes. Ah yes. Famous last decisions. In this climactic topsy-turvy world of ours, things have turned out decidedly different.
Ok, so a few inches of white stuff can’t hurt. But I never expected that my journey would lead me right into the epi-center of an all-out five-star, let-‘er-rip, winter white-out.
Yesterday, in the midst of this so-called ‘epic snowstorm,’ even when the power conked out and a deeper chill settled on us indoors, I couldn’t help but smile: Surely it was wise of me to have arranged a temporary migration southward. But had I even remotely entertained the possibility that my plans might be jettisoned by unpredictable forces, by spirits and energies far beyond my control? Not at all. But c’est la vie. Nature trumps. So be it.
So we hunkered down, got down to a bit of shoveling, revved up the gas burner and outdoor grill; unpacked more fleece blankets, flashlights, candles and matches, bundled up to screen a movie on the battery-powered laptop, and pondered how many more snow days the kids would enjoy – and the adults would have to tolerate.
Ever the pilgrim, I headed out for a morning walk to see what I could see. Stumbling here and there over a hidden patch of ice, I felt both grateful and relieved (despite the considerable pain) to be hobbling along in bright sunshine. The trees were graced with a balletic quality; as if piles of powdered sugar were balanced precariously on the palms of small childrens’ hands, and elongated coverings of pure white silk were draped over outstretched tree-limbs, creating a chiaroscuro effect. A surreal landscape, regal and random, had been woven through towering trees and electric cables.
A few doors away, a house lay eerily dormant, curtains partly pulled, an apparent victim of foreclosure. The entire front yard and driveway was a thigh-high flat sheet of snow, its surface broken only by fallen branches and footprints. A few steps beyond, an elderly man was digging himself out from the front door down to the sidewalk. It seemed like he had hours to go before he would manage to extricate himself from the enclosure. It was heartbreaking to see him work so, and though we exchanged a few words, I felt bad that I did not have the strength to pitch in.
Except for the odd fire-truck or four-wheel drive rambling through, the silence was broken only by the myriad sounds of frolicking, including two snow-suited kids making angels in their front yard. I marveled at the resilience of local residents who, unaccustomed to snowfalls of this magnitude, were cheerfully digging their cars out from swollen masses of snow. Reaching through deep crevices, cheeks rosy from cold and sweat, they’d be brushing away layers, when a sudden sighting of windshield wipers or an antenna would usher forth gales of laughter and relief.
Not so thrilled, I imagined, was the city worker who, after working overnight on street clean-up, returned to his car, spent hours brushing off the snow, only to discover that he’d dug out a stranger’s car. Is a random act of kindness any less so if it’s been undertaken by mistake?
Amen to hidden blessings.