Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My blizzard

That the Blizzard of '78 was 30 years ago is both stunning, and depressing: stunning in the speed of the years tumbling by; depressing in that my baby, who was three months from being born then, is now three months from being 30, too. My dad always says that it's not him getting old that bothers him, it's his kids getting old: now I finally get what he means.
The local papers have been featuring extensive coverage, and consequently we've been talking at home about it, as we freeze during another long "dead of winter" night.
So I'm remembering we had gone over to Roger's grocery on S. Anthony on Wednesday after lunch; when we came out, it was snowing lightly. I must have looked at my watch; I remember it being 1:20. Greg had to be at work at 3, so he left about 2:30--it must have been snowing then, but I don't remember if it was light or heavy or somewhere in between.
But by a couple hours later, winter havoc was wreaking. The wind had come, the snow was much heavier, the temperature was dropping and our little ranch house on Farwood Avenue was like a wind tunnel. Greg got sent home early, and that was the last time the car was out of the garage for a week.
The sound of the wind. For over two days, nonstop, the wind howled and whined and whipped the snow and made it hard to sleep or hear WOWO on the radio or our new TV station, WFFT. Wind so insistent, and so loud, that it was scary--I didn't notice that many people writing into the paper mentioned it, but the blizzard was terrifying.
I remember waking up late Thursday night, and realizing why--the wind had finally died down a little. It was quiet.
What memories linger? Steve Shine on WFFT, and all the movies. Susan Welday on WPTA, and all the weather updates. All the DJs on WOWO, with warning after warning, closing after closing, announcement after announcement.
Really getting bored of being home for a week.
The incredible whiteness of being: everything was white. When the sun came out on Friday, in blinding brilliance, all the world was white and blue.
The unbelievable cold, cold beyond any cold we've had since, cold that invited itself into your house and blew in your windows and froze your pipes and froze you, should you happen to step outside. And the cold stuck around, even after the plows had cleared streets and roads so the entire city was a like a big, high-walled maze, it was cold for weeks after. I hated that cold.
The pot-luck dinner our neighbors hosted the Saturday after the blizzard, even as we were still all snowed in, slogging through the drifts to to their house in that cold, the casseroles and salads and desserts and goodies brought from all up and down the street by people drawn together by weather.
Greg and another neighbor walking to the grocery store, picking up a few necessities and lugging them back.
A man on a snowmobile picking up a prescription for us.
The excitement when the snowplow went down our street, knowing we could finally escape, and the surreal scenes of the city, with 20-foot piles of snow on ever corner.
Feeling like the snow would never leave, spring would never come, no warmth, no green, no summer easiness.
The horrible messiness and flooding when it did finally warm up. And how nice spring was, after that.
I don't need a 100-year blizzard to appreciate spring, though.

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