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Capitol Snow Diaries II: Snowplow Politics

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Washingtonians of certain zip codes and official levels are not accustomed to doing their yard work themselves.

On spring and fall days I've watched crews swoop through the neighborhood, and wondered idly if the amnesty-for-illegals sentiment prevalent in the Capitol stemmed in part from a congressman's or senator's desire not to mow his own lawn. Or at least, pay market price for the service.

In any case, two days into Snowmageddon I, there was not an undocumented landscaping crew to be had for influence or money: While municipal (and unionized) snowplows tackled the major roads, some of the prettiest and affluent sidestreets in the District remained completely snowbound. To add insult to injury, many lost power. Those who had it exchanged outraged messages on neighborhood chat boards -- and even, in that paranoid Washington way, speculated that those sidestreets that did get plowed contained residents who gave more to the Fenty campaign.

A TYPICAL NORTHWEST DC SIDESTREET, DAY TWO:

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We live on a major street, which is normally a nuisance, except during this one historic weather event. After three hours, my husband and teenage son had dug a path down the driveway to the road, and in theory it was now possible for us to drive somewhere, if there was anywhere to go. I strapped on my new cross-country skis to do a reconnaissance of the neighborhood (I was still feeling very smug about having had the foresight to buy them the day before the storm); in fact, skis were the only way to get around our northwest neighborhood, unless you had snowshoes or a dog sled, as the snow everywhere was waist-level. And it was still coming down.

My younger Lab, Chester, bounded behind me in my tracks. We passed snow mounds that turned out to be cars (evident only from a protruding side mirror or windshield wiper). I stopped and chatted with neighbors as they halfheartedly dug out -- because at the point, even if you got your driveway open, the street was closed.

THERE'S A CAR UNDER THERE SOMEWHERE:

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People were still pretty jolly under the circumstances. Everyone had laid in enough supplies to last several days, if not longer. Children were rolling around and building forts in the middle of the road. Some attempted sledding but the snow was actually too deep to get any speed.

I returned to my husband and son, who now resembled pink-cheeked snowmen, with flakes clinging to every bit of facial hair. I glanced over at our neighbor's perfectly cleared driveway. Even the corners were squared. I knew his secret: earlier in the morning I'd heard the tell-tale start-up of an engine and seen a geyser of snow shooting up from his driveway. He had a... snowblower!

"Who don't you ask to borrow it?" I asked my husband.

He shrugged. "We can do this."

"No we can't!" shouted my frozen son sulkily. He'd already toppled off the roof of the car while clearing it but miraculously didn't hurt himself, as it was like falling on a snow mattress.

"Seriously."

"Almost done."

I got his sense of manly pride in the task so I didn't urge him any further -- but I would not be so bashful when he managed to escape the city the next day on a business trip, and I was left to deal with Snowmageddon II by myself...

More to come.

For Part One of Danielle's Snow Diaries, click here.