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Shoveling My Way to Snow Hatred
Heavy rain possible this afternoon

Andrew Freedman @ 10:45 AM

Friends, I'm having a crisis of faith. For the first time in my life I'm looking forward to a rainstorm rather than a snowstorm.

Yes, dear weather weenies, I yearn for melting snow rather than accumulating snow.

Jason Samenow's Forecast

*Slight Risk of Severe Thunderstorms Today. See the latest radar.*

Forecast Confidence: Medium-HighToday: Mild this morning with showers and thunderstorms likely this afternoon into the early evening. Heavy rain and gusty winds are possible. Highs 55-60.
Tonight: Gradual clearing and breezy. Lows 32-37 (suburbs-city).
Christmas Eve: Mostly sunny and just a tad cooler. Highs 48-52.
Christmas Day: Increasing clouds with a 20% of light snow or rain towards evening. Highs 40-45.

I'm terrified that I'm turning into a snow-hating, rain-loving citizen in the same way as I worry that aging has altered my taste in candy (suddenly licorice makes more sense to me than it used to, but I'm still fiercely loyal to Sour Patch Kids).

In Boston, where I'm in graduate school this year, I've experienced the second snowiest December on record, with 26.9 inches thus far. There is more snow on the ground at the time of this writing than I've ever seen here before Christmas. Nearly all of this snow has fallen in one week, which coincided with final exams and term papers. The distraction at this time of year was unwelcome, and so too were the tasks that the snow demanded.

I'm tired of shoveling, scraping, and slipping. I'm fed up with my city's unreasonably high expectations of its citizens' shoveling efforts, and willingness to resort to punitive actions for failing to meet its standards. And I'm eager to return to the days of my youth when I bolted outside before breakfast in order to take stock of a storm, literally shoveling it into my meteorological memory bank.

Why aren't I gushing about how great this week was? How magical the trees looked, and how joyful it was to hear the screams of sledding school children taking advantage of Tufts' hilly campus? Is it to spare the feelings of snow-starved Washingtonians?

No, it's because sometimes, even snow can be a total drag.

When I was growing up I loved shoveling snow. I felt like a storm detective. By peeling away each layer of frozen precipitation I could uncover information about the temperature characteristics of the atmosphere during the storm. A storm total snowfall wasn't truly verified in my mind until I could go out and measure it with a shovel (which of course isn't an accurate method at all).

I remember storms by the shovelful. The worst shoveling storms of my youth were the Superstorm of '93 and the April Fool's Day Blizzard in 1997. Both were awesome in their meteorological power, but they were dreadful to dig out from. The Superstorm flooded the coast with warm ocean air, burdening a foot of snow with rain, which then froze solid as the northwest winds picked up on the backside of the low.

The April Fool's Day Blizzard changed my dad's life by nearly ruining his golfing career. He injured a disc in his back while we were shoveling nearly 30 inches of heavy, wet snow out of our driveway because the snow plow operator hadn't shown up yet. He had surgery a short time later.

My brothers and I had a snow shoveling business called, and this is so lame, "Freedman, Freedman and Freedman." It should have been called just "Freedman and Freedman" though, since my little brother Russ had a habit of shoveling one or two steps on a walkway before giving up in favor of critiquing the work of my older brother Brett and myself. "You've missed that entire part of the driveway," and, "man, we got a lot of snow, didn't we guys?" were some of his most helpful suggestions.

Russ understood what I didn't comprehend until this past week: shoveling is stupid, boring, and tiring work. There was a reason households paid my brothers and I to shovel for them, which was that they hated shoveling for themselves. I had always naively thought that it was because they loved seeing children be happy and enthusiastic. And obviously any kids who had special stationary made for their billing statements were enthusiastic and destined for great things in life, right?

I thought about this last Sunday as my two roommates and I rushed to dig out our apartment from several inches of cement just as a "flash freeze" was occurring. The temperature had plunged from 38 to 30 degrees in under a half an hour, and already the snow had become encrusted with ice, making our jobs much more difficult.

We could only carve a narrow pathway along the sidewalk and around our cars in the driveway before returning to studying for exams with aching arms and backs.

The next day we were greeted by a $25 ticket from the City of Somerville for inadequate snow/ice removal. This was followed by another ticket a few days and a new storm later. Apparently they can do that sort of thing.

Have I lost the enthusiasm for snowstorms? Or am I just more aware now of the misery that shoveling can bring?

I suspect the latter is more on target. That and increased laziness due to exam stress. Or at least I hope so, because lately I don't deserve to call myself a Freedman of Freedman, Freedman and Freedman fame.

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