My parents are thinking wistfully of the temperate vacation spot they left just five days ago to return home to Washington, DC. Did I mention they were in Antarctica? Just about any place seems preferable to the Nation's Capital today as it shudders under another major snowstorm. This time gusty winds have been added to the mix, making for near-white out conditions. Snow is plastered to my living room windows, leaving the sense that we are literally blinded by the snow.
Oh yes, and the federal government has been shuttered since last Friday afternoon. Has anyone noticed? Gauging by what little I can see outside, we'll be government-free for another few days. Happy Valentine's Day!
Knowing that this second storm was on its way, I made it to the local grocery store yesterday afternoon. The produce section was empty. A lone shriveled eggplant bore witness to the mayhem that must have resulted in the apple and banana and tomato displays being decimated. No milk either. I bought more eggs because they require a certain creativity that challenges me.
There was so much snow from the first storm -- heretofore called "Snowmageddon" thanks to President Obama -- that it sits in hulking piles several feet high by the side of roads and in parking lots. Now another 10 - 15 inches of blowing snow will turn those graying piles into bright white free-form sculptures. Sidewalks which had been cleared enough to allow one footfall at a time are filling up rapidly with the new snow.
For some of us, it's merely inconvenient and perhaps a little frightening. Can the roof hold this much weight? Will the gutters stay up? Did we lay in enough bread and toilet paper? How will we keep the kids occupied for yet another school-free week? But for others in the DC area, this must be terrifying. For wage workers who must navigate the streets to get to jobs that pay nothing if they don't show up (and very little if they do), this must be truly life-threatening. Public transportation is mostly stalled. How will they get to work? And what happens to people who live paycheck to paycheck if they miss a few days? Who will care for their children with daycare and schools closed?
My friends and I have been coining new words like "snowverload" and "snowverkill" but there is a deadly seriousness to this onslaught of bad weather in the Washington area. Hopefully it will highlight acts of altruism and courage, will remind us that some workers are not paid on snow days, that there are worse things than discovering that the magnolia tree in the backyard has lost several limbs. There are nervous jokes to be sure, and opportunities for friends in Chicago and Phoenix and Los Angeles and heap scorn on us. But I'm hoping each of us also finds at least one chance to be kind to someone who could use a little kindness on yet another day of wondering how long this bad weather can go on and exactly how bad it will get.
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