Snowy patio furniture

I take some version of this same picture every few years, after every major snowfall. In 2013, Nemo dumped 24 inches of snow on our backyard, and I posted a photo of our buried patio furniture. I shot today’s version this afternoon, while the snow was still falling, and when J took a preliminary pass snow-blowing our driveway, we’d gotten 18 inches, and Juno still isn’t done with us yet.

Front door view

I think I take these same shots over and over because every year, the transformation between “before” and “after” a major snowstorm is so arresting. When you look at a snow-filled yard, it’s difficult to tell how deep it is…but when you see one to two feet of snow on top of a table, you get a sense of how heavy a load everyone’s digging out from.

At a certain level, it’s difficult to envision 18, 24, or even more inches of snow: after the snow tops your boots, another inch or so doesn’t make that much difference. So while J has an official snow stick he uses to measure our backyard snow, I tend toward more comparative measurements: is the snow ankle-, calf-, or even beagle-deep?

Bring me inside now, please

That’s Melony the beagle in our backyard dog pen, which is all the further any of us ventured today. J cleared a path to and from the pen, and I shoveled a space inside for Melony and Cassie, our white German shepherd, to “do their business.” This photo shows Melony giving me her most plaintive “I’m done, please take me inside now” look.

The perfect man...on sale

Friday is my usual grocery day, so yesterday I took advantage of a one-day respite between snowstorms to stock up on provisions for the week. The grocery store parking lot was more crowded than usual, with enormous snow piles taking up a whole row of parking spaces. As I approached the store, a handful of college guys in sweatshirts and slouchy jeans poured out of a car and sauntered in ahead of me, making a bee-line for a colorful display of flowers, chocolates, and heart-shaped balloons. Obviously their girlfriends have trained them well.

A singing spot of color

In the produce section, an employee stood by a display of boxed strawberries and a chocolate fountain, a throng of women waiting in line to select the berries they’d dip. All over the store, lone men steered shopping carts laden with ingredients for a romantic meal, the pasta, salad, and garlic bread in their carts clearly indicating that Valentine’s Day is Dad’s turn to cook.

Icicles on a gray day

What I didn’t see at the grocery store yesterday were panicked people hoarding milk, eggs, and bread in advance of today’s snowstorm, as sometimes happens earlier in the season. This is the ninth snowstorm we’ve had this year: I know because we’ve kept a tally of “snow events” on our refrigerator, another mark added every time we get more than a broom-sweeping’s worth of snow. After eight snowstorms, we pretty much know the drill: we know to hunker down during the storm, dig out as soon as it stops, and return to usual the next day. After eight snowstorms, you might say that Mother Nature has us well-trained.

Masks

This afternoon I had the delightful task of telling my first-year writing students that Keene State is canceling classes tomorrow as we anticipate our latest snowstorm. I don’t teach on campus on Wednesdays–it’s my usual online grading day, a job I do from home regardless of the weather. But I experienced a vicarious thrill listening to my students’ excited plans to spend the day tomorrow sleeping in and making snowmen and snow-angels. What better way to spend a winter Wednesday?

Mask & mirror

When I finished teaching the last of today’s classes, I rushed home to walk Reggie in the lingering light of late afternoon. I regularly walk the dog when I’m done teaching: a late afternoon walk is a great way to shake off the workday, and I’m convinced both Reggie and I rest better because of it. But today, there was an additional urgency and thrill.

Tomorrow we’ll be snowed in, I thought, so we’d better walk now while the walking is good. While others were rushing out to the grocery store to stock their shelves and refrigerators with storm supplies, I snapped images of downtown shop windows. I have plenty of food in the house to weather our latest winter storm, but what will I blog in the meantime?

Tomorrow morning I was supposed to attend a meeting on campus, and I had another commitment in the afternoon. Now, with a single announcement, both of those obligations are obliterated, as if they themselves were buried in snow. I’d planned to do laundry tomorrow, and I have an afternoon appointment to get my car serviced…but if the sky falls as snowflakes, I can skip this week’s laundry and postpone that service appointment. If need be, I can skip out on everything tomorrow, staying hunkered down at home while grading papers online, my dog and a warm blanket to keep me company. Apart from the requisite doggy bathroom breaks, there’s really no need for me to go out into the storm until it’s over and it’s time to start shoveling and scraping.

Masks with reflection

As I hurried around town this afternoon, I realized how much I love this phenomenon of hunkering down, content in the knowledge that I have a refrigerator full of food, shelves full of books, and enough grading to keep me occupied but not overwhelmed. Even as a child, I enjoyed sick days home from school, for on those days my mom would nestle me on the couch or in bed, a soothing beverage and snack, warm blankets, and my favorite stuffed animals all within easy reach. On those days, I felt like a snug ship facing stern seas: no matter what sort of threat awaited outside, inside my warm cocoon I had everything I needed to stay safe and secure.

As I type these words, I’m tucked in for the night, my warm laptop my only link to the outside world. The sky can fall as snowflakes if it likes, and I myself don’t mind.