Friday, February 16, 2007

Winter in Boston: A Case Study

Unless I'm on a beach with the Saint on my arm and a drink in my hand, I hate hot weather. I love winter. Every time the snow falls, the Saint or one of the kids snaps a picture of me wearing shorts and a t-shirt while I'm shoveling.

This year, I don't love winter so much.

We went through a December when the temperatures were above freezing almost every day. January was balmy. I think we hit 70 degrees once or twice.

So February should be great, right?

Single digit temperatures for days on end. Wednesday, the mercury finally climbed again, until it was just warm enough for snow. Which turned to sleet and freezing rain. Oldest Son and Middle Child shoveled. And shoveled. And shoveled. I came home from work and shoveled some more.

I scraped off all the snow and ice. Got right down to the blacktop on the driveway and sidewalk. Cleaned the van and the Jeep. Put down ten pounds of salt. Went to bed exhausted (after posting my St. Valentine's Day Ode to Bruce, drafted in the self-congratulatory warmth of a glass of cognac). I may even have extended my middle fingers at the sleet falling outside.

Yesterday morning, the ice on my sidewalk and driveway was three inches thick and the temperatures were in the single digits again. Not only was all that salt useless because the temperature had fallen so quickly, it was frozen under the ice. I don't have skates.

Normally the Saint and Oldest Son go off to school together. Yesterday, the Saint had to get Daughter and Middle Child to day care and the school bus, which is usually my responsibility. The sludge and ice had pooled around the van tires, then frozen solid. The van was literally frozen into the driveway.

The Jeep has four-wheel drive, but even that's no sure bet when the snow plows pile a three-foot drift across the driveway... and said drift freezes into a hard, slippery, immovable object. The Saint crashed down off the... ice thing... with such force that I thought the air bags had deployed. She got everybody where they needed to be, but was twenty-five minutes late for school.

I overcompensated for failing in my parental duties: On the way to work, I helped the neighbors dig out their car. Then six of us fought a sheet of ice for traction. The car went nowhere. Eventually, the wheels spun a giant rooster-tail of sludge at us like it was coming from a snow-blower.

Did you know that if ice shoots into the air at just the right angle, it can fall directly between your jacket and your shirt? I didn't know that either, until yesterday morning. After we backed away, of course, a quick tap on the gas put the car safely in the middle of the street. My neighbors and I were exchanging high-fives like drunks at a football game.

I earned a great reward for my good manners. During the seven-minute walk from my house to the bus stop, I fell eight times. The walk took twenty minutes.

This morning, we planned ahead. We left early. The Saint carried Daughter to the Jeep. I carried the Saint's school stuff. I'm grateful we hadn't switched loads, because I ended up on my back, under the Jeep, sprawled like a snow angel in a Springsteen shirt, but with less traction. The Saint's school stuff ended up all over the driveway. Oldest Son and Middle Child smirked until they couldn't hold it in any longer, then howled from the safety (and warmth) of the Jeep. Daughter sobbed because she thought I was dead.

The neighbors heard utterances from my mouth that they hadn't heard since yesterday. Daughter realized that dead men can't swear.

The thermometer hit 30 today. The van is still frozen in the driveway. Every muscle in my body is sore from shoveling or from trudging through ice banks. I've crashed to the ground so many times that my bruises have bruises.

I would like to go to Miami.


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