2/13/14 – It snowed. A lot. Again. The above photo was taken sometime after breakfast yesterday morning. Rex seems to be enjoying this winter, and if I had a coat like his I’m sure I wouldn’t mind half as much. My other dog, Loki, on the other hand, is not built for this weather and had little interest in being outdoors. Can’t say that I blame him. And this photo was taken a few hours later, during a lull in the storm. Note the patio table and the railing from one photo to the next. One day’s snow, and the day, and the snow, are far from over. We’re expecting another 6 inches before dawn, then another round of 4-6″ from Friday night to Saturday morning.
And me? I just spent the last two hours clearing the latest layer from the driveway and walk. Now, if you’ll all excuse me, I’m curling up in my favorite arm chair with a nice glass of brandy while I watch the Olympics. Which, ironically, was held in Russia rather than New York City, in part because, well, you know. It’s the Winter Olympics, and for that you need a whole lot of top quality snow and ice. Maybe we could ship some of this white stuff to balmy Sochi — I’m sure they could put it to good use, and I for one, would be happy to see it go.
2/14/14 – It snowed/sleeted/rained/thundered/sleeted/snowed most of the night. The snow is saturated through and through, and heavy enough that it’s caved in rooftops on some buildings. It’s clearing out now, for a few hours at least, but should return tonight for another round. Meanwhile, my table continues to disappear.
To say that the last few months have been bumpy ones would be an understatement of the highest order. I’ve had my hands full on many levels, which would be more than enough as it is, but a brief glimpse of the news only underscores that these days there is no short supply of tragedy, on levels that should be unimaginable. I’ll admit, lately it’s been getting pretty overwhelming. But then, a moment of beauty and serenity sneaks up on me, and everything seems a little bit better.
Last night was one of those moments. I’d been down at the marina, and the snowstorm that had been moving across the country reached the Hudson valley as night fell, quickly blanketing everything in a soft layer of white that shimmered under the mercury vapor lights. Christmas lights hung from the mast of sailboat on the main dock, and everything took on a whispery quiet postcard perfection. My only wish was that my boat was already in the water, not only to be part of this lovely scene, but then because I’d have a mere walk down the dock to a warm dinner and cozy bunk, rather than a white-knuckle drive home. But even the slippery roads couldn’t diminish the beauty of the night. At a rail crossing the gates dropped, red lights flashing across the wind-swept whiteness, and a freight train emerged, headlight piercing the falling flakes as it rumbled past. Maybe it was all the visual input, or maybe it was the concentration the unplowed roads demanded, but as I drove home, for the first time in a long time, my mind shifted from all that has been occupying it far too much lately. And that felt good.
This year is almost over, with a new one closing in fast. If there’s one thing 2012 has taught me, it’s that things can always be worse. Much worse. And even when they are, if you take a moment, you’ll see there’s still plenty of ‘better’ to be found. Here’s to 2013 being a better year.
Happy New Years to all!
Above: It looked much nicer in an upright position.
First, the ‘SuperStorm’, Sandy. Then there was an earthquake, right in my neck of the woods. I kid you not. And now, six inches of snow on top of the already weakened trees, downed power lines, and tarp covered homes like mine. At this rate, I’m almost expecting to see locusts in the upcoming weather forecasts for New Jersey and the surrounding states. Last night I spent wakeful hours listening to the driving snow and 60 mph gusts batter the house. This morning began with mopping up where the storm found its way in to my kitchen and spare bedroom, which had been my home office. And yet, relatively speaking, I’m feeling pretty lucky these days, which seems to surprise most everyone who sees our home.
Minutes before the tree came down the radio reported the storm about to worsen, so my daughter and I decided to take the dogs out for what we imagined would their last walk for the night. Normally we take them out back, but she felt one tree out back was swaying just a bit more than looked right, and suggested they get down to business faster on leash, out front. We were standing in the lawn as the wind made an eerie moan, and dogs in tow, we bolted back to the house just as there was a terrifying crash and leaves showered down around us. We rushed inside to discover the damage. Had we gone out back, rushing back to the house at the very same moment we had, we would have been directly beneath the tree as it hit.
So yes, I feel extremely lucky. And I feel lucky that we still have most of our roof over our heads, (even if it now resembles Swiss cheese,) which is so much more than so many others affected by the storm. The house can and will be rebuilt, while staggering numbers of homes throughout the region are beyond repair or gone entirely. Our home is still here, still livable, and my boat is one of the few in my region that survived, even as so many of the marinas around me were completely devastated. When I hear the news speak of the ‘victims of Sandy’ I realize that technically, I’m one of them. But I don’t feel that way. I feel lucky. Very lucky. And now that things are under coming under control here, I’m heading out, doing what I can to help others out there who weren’t as lucky.
A white Christmas in north Jersey? Perhaps, if it doesn’t all melt in the next few days. All the same, it is pretty and the dogs love it, and I love not having 16 muddy paws to contend with, as my mom’s dogs are visiting. Friday’s storm dropped over six inches by us, and Sunday added another four or so. Felicia and I built a snow ‘T-Rex’ (pictures to follow) then all went out to get a tree. Okay, let’s see. We own a pickup, a station wagon and a convertible Mustang. The obvious choice would be the truck, but that’s got some mechanical issues. Next choice, the wagon. Nope. That’s filled to the roof with boat stuff, with only the front seat free. That leaves the Mustang. We get to the tree lot which hasn’t been plowed and get good and stuck. Manage to get the car pointed towards the exit, then go buy our tree, all three feet tall of it. Drop the roof, set it in the back seat next, and the three of us climb in. One kid at the lot waves that the road is clear, two guys at the lot push on the trunk, and we shoot out fishtailing the whole way. Another memorable tree trip!
The forecast said it wouldn’t start until 4am-6am, but by 1:30 this morning the ground was already covered. Why was I up? It seems every animal in the house, including those who never set foot outdoors, was awake, likely due to some barometric/atmospheric/lunar combination. So I didn’t get much sleep. But it’s a snow day, and I don’t have to leave the house today, so I could sleep late? Yeah, right. Frank’s up early for the bus, so now it’s 5:30, and I’m moving now, so I might as well shovel the 5″ while it’s still light and fluffy, before it doubles. Shovel the drive, the walks, the deck, while the dogs go wild in the yard. I’m soaked through by time I’m done, so I head straight to the shower. Feed animals, cook breakfast, and on to the computer. I’ve been on a roll the last few days, writing well into the night, overflowing with thoughts of mayhem and making wonderful progress.
These late February days recharge my batteries. The snow is just a passing thing. The days keep growing longer, and the trees are already shaded faint red with hints of buds. Within weeks the ground will be muddy, then green. The cover comes off the boat, and the real work begins. As I write this, I’m surrounded by boxes of gear, replenished through the winter, just waiting to be stowed aboard. I need to check the control cables on the bridge, they were sticking last fall, and I think there’s air in the steering hydraulics. Scraping the bottom, repainting, and countless other things I don’t even know yet.
It’s still snowing, and should be for hours. I’ll have to shovel again later, and set off some more fireworks tonight. Right now, I think I’ll take a short nap!
It started snowing here around noon, and by dark several inches had accumulated, coating everything in a shimmering blanket. The dogs couldn’t be happier, rolling around and running figure eights in the yard. Everything is tranquil and beautiful… in other words, a perfect night for FIREWORKS!!!
Truthfully, just about anything is a good excuse for fireworks. New Years, birthdays, the Giants win the Superbowl, and of course, the Fourth of July. Any celebration. Or just any old day when blowing something up will blow off some stress. Fortunately, my neighbors have become accustomed to these random unannounced pyrotechnic displays, and usually just come out to watch as I set off a few fountains and mortars. But snow is one of the prettiest settings for fireworks, reflecting the colors in a way photos can’t capture.