Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Frozen hell came to southern New Jersey as 17 inches of snow fell where I live. So far, the snowfall amounts are unprecedented for the region as the Mid-Atlantic states continue to dig out from snow. If I didn't loathe winter before, I surely do now. Piles of snow left from the snowplows line the streets, and a night of sleeting has turned them all into Mount Slushmore. Things grew so bad that Gov. Chris Christie visited and promised to declare a state of emergency, which would secure federal money for reimbursing snow removal costs.
The area was paralyzed. Days before the storm, everybody instinctually went to the supermarket to hoard food for Old Man Winter's icy onslaught. I never understood why people stock up on milk, eggs and bread before a snowstorm. I guess people like eating a lot of French toast whenever they're snowed in. There's something maddening about the behavior of grocery store crowds. I waited in line 30 minutes at the self-checkout while some old woman struggled with figuring out how to scan her vegetables on the machine. I think there should be an age limit on technology use. If you're over 60, you should be barred from using anything invented after the year 2000 that has more than two buttons on it. I like the lemming mentality of grocery shopping before a snowfall. It's as if people would be snowed in for a solid month, that a glacier was bearing down on their towns and they wouldn't see the light of day until the spring thawing. Just how much food do you expect to consume in a 24 hour period before the snowplows come?
"Oh, no! I forgot the margarine! Better harness up the snow dogs and head for the Inuit trading post..."
With the snowstorm came the loss of electricity. My house wasn't affected, but there were 50,000 people in the area with no electricity due to icy electric wires. If you thought that being snowed in for a day would grind civilization to a standstill, wait till you lose electricity for a day. Most people couldn't survive without heat, light or television. Like blankets, candles or sock puppets wouldn't suffice. The very notion that we are so dependent on these creature comforts really comes through during a blizzard when everything you take for granted is taken away as electricity is snuffed out. Your life just wouldn't be complete if you didn't catch that episode of "House," now would it?
But not everything is chaos during our mini Ice Age. We have cheerful-looking snowmen, the sound of snow crunching under our boots and the heartwarming sight of cars stuck on snowy roads to make us appreciative of winter's wonders.
A car became ensconced in snow in front of my house and I, along with two other men from the neighborhood assisted. We dug with our shovels and the motorist was able to free his car and drive along the yet unplowed street. Before that moment, we didn't know each other, yet we came outside to help a stranger. Perhaps that is the one good thing this storm has taught me - the intrinsic value of helping others. That, and stocking up on milk, bread and eggs because French toast warms a cold, winter morning.
Patriotic Snowman says "Hey you damn kids! Get off my lawn!"
The governor holds a press conference about the blizzard. Purple is not his color.
Louisa comes out to play.