In the Suburbs / Phil and Chuck say early spring's on the way
I was scraping ice off my windshield, my arms aching from the back-and-forth movement, when I looked up at the dark sky and said, "I'm trying to lead a virtuous life. What am I doing wrong?" That was the night before the second storm hit us with a one-two punch of rain and then snow to finish things off. And it's February.
The next morning we'd all know if Punxatawney Phil and other wannabe groundhogs would see their shadows and whether winter would kick us in the rear for another six weeks. And, indeed, Chuck from the Staten Island Museum and Phil did not see their shadows Tuesday, so spring should arrive early.
We're nearly 10 storms into this game and our snow from storm No. 1 on Dec. 26 remains the undercoating for all the rest of the storms.
Most of us use our Mondays now to prepare for our predictable Tuesday snowstorms. There have been so many snowy Tuesdays and Wednesdays that I've simply planned my weeks around school delays and closures knowing I won't be subbing.
But aside from what the snow is doing to us humans, these storms have really affected our doggy family. Thankfully, our two little Jack Russells discovered a tiny grassy area that Mother Nature continues to leave untouched. On the other hand, our rescue dog, Queenie, a beagle mix and a bit of a heavyweight, had become used to a spot at the far front end of the yard. Early in the snow game, she made it quite clear -- four times in the house -- that I'd better start digging a path quickly to her favorite spot. On other occasions, Queenie just made up her mind she wasn't going out at all!
My lower back ached by the time my shoveling reached Queenie's favorite dump spot, but the minute I'd finished the path and let her out, she died and went to snow heaven. She literally bounded to the end of her special path and barked for my approval.
I've decided that we really have to listen when our dogs are trying to tell us something with their behavior. Queenie is a barker and her excited bark tells me regularly what a great guy I am for digging her path to Nirvana.
When blizzard No. 2 arrived on Tuesday, Jan. 11, dumping roughly 2 feet on average across the state, we knew we were housebound. The storm was a real doozy and Gov. Malloy's advisers had the good sense to mandate that drivers stay off the roads. That move saved lives and tempers. It's always good to have the guv on your side.
When the storm ended the next day, I opened my garage as I had two weeks before to my own snow lake. I sighed, preparing to pick up my shovel and wreck my back, when a car full of young men pulled up, pointing at the driveway. "Yes," I yelled. "A thousand times yes!" I was waving around dollar bills. And we agreed on the full driveway this time and the path to the house so the mailman wouldn't chastise me. I knew my plow guy would make a clean sweep to finish the rest.
When the next two storms hit the following week, especially a Friday storm, I was running a high cabin fever and feeling the revenue pinch from not subbing. I had already written off Martin Luther King Day on the 17th and finals week, along with a district-wide in-service day for that Friday, but who would have figured on two snowy hits in one week. I resigned myself to being just another contractor victimized by the weather and wished I were in the plowing business. Those guys probably think they won the lottery.
I was hoping to get a little more on track last week and had put my name in with Janet, the substitute clerk, for Tuesday, when our surprise 4-inch storm hit.
I couldn't believe it. My wife had already told me that the weather experts were calling our snow this year the largest amount ever recorded in the history of the state. I have no doubts about that.
My parents, who are in Florida for three months, reminded me, "How else can we get our kicks, except by gloating over your weather misery?" "Thanks, Dad. I'll remember that," I told him.
I consider myself a very patient person, but that surprise storm last week just pushed me over the edge. Then right on the heels of it was Thursday's sleet, slush and ice. I concluded that we just couldn't cut a break and another week of subbing went down the drain.
Last Friday, despite a two-hour delay, I subbed and it was great to get back into the classroom even on an abbreviated schedule. I was also committed to sub on Wednesday of this week, but along came the ice.
On top of all the snow, we suddenly had the added worries on Wednesday of an ice storm snapping electrical wires, making streets into skating rinks and threatening more closings and delays. Wednesday promised to be a humdinger.
Despite my cabin fever, I am not booking tickets for Florida, begging for a warm spring or longing for the boiling hot summer days that are likely to follow. All that would be too radical. Instead, I am just hoping for a first big thaw and a little warmer weather, which may begin next week. In the meantime, I've heard that there is more snow coming tonight into tomorrow. And February is just beginning. It's "snow" wonder I'm burning up with cabin fever.
Steve Gaynes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org -- if he's not out shoveling or searching for people to shovel.