04/13/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Capital Snow Diaries: Longer than Health Care Debate

If I were any sort of intrepid correspondent, I would have begun this diary when the snow started last Friday. But oh, we were so happy then.

As the sky loomed gray, and my Canadian nose detected the distinctive scent of incoming snow (cold but not too cold, kind of steely), I was bounding around like my 3-year-old Labrador. And indeed, so was everyone else. There was a distinctively jaunty mood in the supermarkets as we filled up our carts with water, chuck meat, eggs, milk, and booze. Definitely booze.

People were uncharacteristically polite. In Washington, people are characteristically impolite. Indeed, that is our municipal "trait," if you will. I have lived and driven in many cities, but nowhere else would anyone actually force you into a concrete median rather than allow you to change lanes. Citizens steer their shopping carts in the same manner, and rarely offer a friendly nod or greeting to strangers. I have stewed over this in the past, trying to come up with some sort of theory to explain it: maybe because it's essentially a city of bureaucrats, no one else ever wants anyone else to get ahead -- and pettily, we would kill you for your stapler? But I've come to no conclusion, except for the general observation that Washingtonians are as mean as snakes.

That being said, in the early days of Snowmageddon -- or Snowpocalypse, depending on your news source -- people were positively balmy. The snow was falling all over the District, to paraphrase Joyce, and we made joyous plans. Monopoly and Risk -- that is, the non-downloadable versions -- were brought out from basement cupboards. Fires were set. Stew recipes exchanged. Wine poured.

The snow did not disappoint. We awoke Saturday morning to waist-high snow. I opened the door and a wall of it simply fell in the front hall . Our elder Lab, 13, who through rain, sleet, or snow, will still retrieve up to five daily newspapers every morning, gave up halfway down the walk; instead he rolled around happily, and left a large, steaming deposit to despoil the otherwise pristine Currier and Ives picture that was once our gnarly front yard.

Husbands and sons were eventually enlisted to shovel the first load off the drive, dig out the car, and if they were so moved, clear a path down the front walk and even a bit of sidewalk.

I high-fived myself that I'd been clever enough to buy possibly the last set of cross-country skis in the entire District of Columbia. I nearly came to fisticuffs with another woman over them (see: mean as snakes, above), but she sensibly relented. Not since I was a child (see: Canada, above) had I skied through a snowed-in city. We live across from Battery-Kemble Park ravine, where there is one of Washington's most fabled sledding hills (legend is that JFK brought his kids to sled here). I imagined I would ski down there with the Labrador, return home for a hot toddy, possibly a round of Monopoly...

Okay, so that was Day One. Who knew that five days later, many of us would still be housebound -- indeed, that this whole snow thing would feel older than the health care debate?

More to come...