Being “snowed” in this Valentine’s day reminded me of this story.
When Zach was in grad school we lived in Rochester, NY, where it snows… a lot. It isn’t that it frequently snows feet at a time, but there is a constant influx of drizzly snowy mist from Lake Ontario. It is grey and dreary and really really cold.
There are a lot of things that a girl from the south may not know when it comes to dealing with normal life in a lake effect snow area.
I learned to leave my windshield wipers up when you aren’t driving to keep them from freezing to the windshield. I had overshoes, and YakTraks, and shoe dryers. Zach had a snow emergency kit in his trunk, and we both had long ice scrapers with brushes.
The hardest lesson I learned was the effect a plow has when it clears the apartment complex parking lot. Each trip through pushes more and more snow up behind your car, making leaving again increasingly difficult.
One Valentine’s day we got 19 inches of snow, a lot for one storm, but not enough to close businesses. I happened to be sick and had called in to work to stay in bed watching the snow fall.
In North Carolina 19 inches would cripple the state for days; in Rochester it was barely enough to be a major topic of conversation.
The next morning I dragged my still-sick self out of bed and walked to my car. I had never seen 19 inches of snow before, and didn’t consider that it would overtop my boots, and send snow cascading down my ankles and into my shoes. Each step I took threatened to suck my shoes off, and it was physically exhausting to walk around my car to brush and scrape.
Slowly it occurred to me that I was not going to be able to get my car out. I tried using my gloved hands to push snow away from my tires, and it worked about as much as you would expect. I kicked in frustration, and stomped as tears crept into my eyes. I was now officially running late for work, and nowhere near free of the snow curb piled behind my wheels.
Aha! Zach had a travel shovel in his snow emergency kit! I trudge down a few parking spaces, brush snow from his trunk, and get the shovel. Using a shovel is pretty self-explanatory, right? It was a folding shovel, and I could not get it to lock in place. I went back to my car, more snow soaking my jeans with each step – by this point I was feverish and freezing, tears threatening to overflow but scared they might freeze.
As I hunched over trying to use this limp and ineffective shovel, I got angry. Fuck the snow. Fuck the cold. Fuck this shovel. I am not made for living inside a snow globe.
With my burning fingers I dialed work. “Hi, this is Rhiannon. I will be there when I get there, but my car is snowed in, and I am too southern for this. Yes. That’s right. I am calling in southern.”
Eventually someone with a real shovel took pity on me and helped me get my car out. I changed clothes and drove to work in that forsaken snowy wasteland where they don’t close schools until the windchill is -30, and where 19 inches of snow is barely a water cooler conversation.
And as soon as we could, we got the hell out of there. Back to the south where a flurry closes school, and storms get names like “Snowmaggedon” and “Snowpocalypse” for dumping six inches and melting away two days later.