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Fimbulwinter

So, we’re gonna get a little snow here in New York City tonight.

The runup to any storm here usually just makes me roll my eyes; I grew up in New England, and saw the Blizzard of ’78.  And what I remember of that is missing only one day of school, despite the fact that the drifts of plowed snow were actually taller than my father.  Here, one inch of slush and the transit system grinds to a screeching halt and people panic and try stocking up on water and coffee and toilet paper, and there’s a day of Impending-Zombie panic and then the whole thing blows over in three hours, once I’ve already tried to battle my way home through the panicking hordes.

Feh.

However, I just had a conversation with someone at work who reminded me of New York’s 2010 snow debacle – in which the city failed to declare a snow emergency during a blizzard the day after Christmas, and was basically caught with its pants down after we got 20 inches.  So the city is a lot more likely to declare emergencies now, he said.  The thing was, the reason why we hadn’t declared an emergency prior to that was because we had been too prone to panicking over snow – and people were complaining about that.  So the pendulum is probably going to just swing back and forth.

2010 was quite a thing, though.  I’d just managed to beat the snow – my father had been keeping an eye on the weather while I’d been enjoying the holidays with them, and strongly declared that I take an earlier train.  And so I just managed to make it to Penn Station about twenty minutes before Amtrak closed down service, and made it home in a taxi about a half hour before the roads started getting impassable.  My roommate at the time, though, was at her overnight job tending bar in Soho and had to carpool home in a taxi at 5 am, and the taxi could go down our street – so she had to walk fifteen blocks through the snow in heels and dig her way up our stoop using her bare hands.  I was already awake when she got in, and all she said was, “Merry Christmas.  Good to see you.  I can’t feel my hands.  Good night.” before heading directly to the bathroom for a 45-minute shower and then to bed.

I did at least check on the possibility of going to work that day; I was working in New Jersey at the time, and had to use both the subway and New Jersey Transit.  The MTA closed first; then the bus to Jersey.  So I cheerfully called my boss and left a message saying that unless they were comfortable with me walking through the Lincoln Tunnel, I was gonna stay home for the day.

The funny thing was that it turned out to be sunny for most of the day after the storm, so I was lured outside.  I suited up in good boots and a good jacket and spent an idyllic couple hours wandering around my neighborhood, reveling in being able to walk down the middle of the (still unplowed) streets.  Some enterprising kids with shovels were already on the sidewalks, hitting up everyone they passed – “need your car dug out?”  I came to the aid of a woman who was stuck in the snow by the laundromat, her car wheels spinning – I ran into the supermarket next door and bought some cheap kitty litter, meaning to sprinkle it under her wheels for traction.  But by the time I came out, she was already gone.  A pickup truck pulled into its place, so I offered the kitty litter to them and went on my way.

Tomorrow is going to be the height of the storm, though, and much more suited for staying in.  I have an article to work on anyway so I’ll most likely be doing that.  Friends are reporting in with similar plans on Facebook.   The people with the best plan, though, are my friends Colin and Niki – they own a house in the Catkills which they rent out, and they were already planning to drive up and check things out as there’s reports of the washing machine being on the fritz.  Plus the storm is actually supposed to be less severe to the north.  So as I write this, they are on the way to their mountain cabin.

I told them, before they left, to track down a copy of Van Morrison’s “I Wanna Roo You,” which is literally about being snowed in during a blizzard in the Catskills.  If nothing else, I told them, it suggests a way to pass the time.

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