I grew up in Minnesota. I lived in Upstate New York. I know how to use a shovel, an ice chopper, and a snowblower. But the past month has just been unrelenting. Everyone sees the pictures – the blizzards, the mountains of snow – but really, it’s not just the snow. If it were just the snow, it wouldn’t be so bad.
It’s the exhaustion. The physical, mental, spiritual exhaustion.
- The endless shoveling and the narrowing driveways and sidewalks. The sore muscles.
- The extra time all the chores – shoveling, clearing the car, chopping ice, finding a parking spot – take out of our already too full days.
- The parents wondering what to do on another snow day.
- The hourly workers losing pay.
- Trying to commute on what is left of the public transportation system.
- Trying to commute on roads where the two lanes are just exactly wide enough for two cars. Or so narrowed that only one car can go through at a time. Or the traffic is backed up because of the roads in Boston or because the plows are out moving the snow back from the shoulders of the road.
- It doesn’t matter how you commute – it takes at least twice as long.
- The highway without a merge lane (because it’s under snow) and with snow banks so high on the on-ramp you can’t see the traffic coming.
- The caregivers in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and elder housing spending nights on air mattresses in conference rooms and hallways, or in empty rooms. Sharing one shower, or having no showers, so that they can be at work in the blizzard. And the next blizzard. And the next.
- The darkness. Yes, the days are getting longer. But day after day has been gray; the sun has been in short supply. The snow is piled so high that some people’s windows or deck doors have disappeared behind snow.
- The frozen pipes. The broken pipes. The really spectacular plumber who tells you he can replace your frozen pipe, but it’s so cold it will just freeze again, so let’s wait a week. And it’s bailing out the sink with the drip and the frozen pipe.
- The ice dams. Damn them. The leaks in the house. The leaks you know will be in the house. The frantic calls and hold times before you can get someone out to the house to deal with them.
- Hiring someone to shovel your roof. And then watching the next snow cover it again.
But, it’s not just the snow.
- It’s neighbors shoveling out neighbors. And bringing them food or inviting them over for dinner. And sharing names of plumbers or roofers or contractors.
- It’s plow drivers and roofers and contractors and plumbers working almost around the clock so that the roads are cleared, the pipes are fixed, the ice dams are broken up, and the roofs are shoveled.
- It’s caregivers spending the night sleeping on the floor or driving through a blizzard so sick, or elderly, or vulnerable people are cared for.
- It’s parents and kids sledding, skiing, or just playing in the snow.
- It’s having quiet time to catch up on reading, or sewing, or getting the taxes done.
- It’s longer days, with the promise of spring, or at least a hint of sunlight, letting us know that we’ll make it through this.