The snowfall began early this morning, but the real storm has yet to begin. As I write to you, the hour of daylight has passed, the street is empty, and everything is covered with snow.
The lights from windows inside the neighboring homes all shine in a way that only comes during wintery moments. They shine through window curtains with a soft, yellowish glow, which describes an inside warmth to oppose the outside temperature.
The streetlamps stand in place and light the street with a halo around the head of its glowing body. The snow is falling heavy and coming down in an angle, but overall, the worst is yet to come.
The weatherman says to prepare for power outages. The Governor has already declared a state of emergency and the railroads plan to shut their service at 11:00 tonight.
“Be ready,” said the man on the news.
“This storm is likely to be the worst snowstorm ever!”
For now, my home has power. The heat works and so does the hot water. For now, everything is quiet and my town is covered in a bedding of white snow.
As threatening as this storm is supposed to be, I feel these moments are beautiful. I am settled into the warmth of my home with candles flickering in the background. All who I love is safe, and all that will come is on its way.
I have been thought storms like this before. Each one threatens to be worse than any before its time. The supermarkets fill and empty with crazed shoppers reaching for impulse items and buying whatever is necessary to endure the threat of a blackout.
The gas stations are occupied with long lines of vehicles, idling, and waiting to fill their tank in case of a gas shortage.
Yes, I have been through storms like this before. I have been through worse. I have gone days without power and hot water. All the food in my fridge went bad, which is why I laugh when I see people nervously preparing for the upcoming storm. They buy gallons of milk—but milk goes bad if there’s no power to run the fridge.
I have been through storms like this before. I have been snowed in, and in fact, I have some incredible memories from these times.
My first recollection of a storm that left my town without power happened when I was only a boy. We had gone without power for three days. There was nothing to do and no television.
“Read a book,” my mother told me.
“It won’t kill you,” she said.
“It just might,” I answered, but there was nothing else to do.
What I remember most is everyone was home. My brother was home and so was The Old Man. My mother did her best to keep everyone comfortable and entertained.
I felt like we were miles away from anything and everything. No one was outside, and with the exception of snowplows and emergency vehicles, even the busy street we lived on was mostly vacant.
On the third day, we all sat at the dinner table. We ate take-out and played Trivial Pursuit. I don’t think we ever did anything like this before, nor do I remember ever doing anything like this again. We played by candle light. There was no arguing and there were no disputes on how to play the game. There was just us—it was our family without any tension.
We were in mid-game when the power came back. We all rejoiced. We cheered out loud as curls of smoke lifted up from the extinguished candles. But the same part of me that cheered for the power also wished the blackout could have lasted a little longer—or at least, I wished it could have lasted until we finished the game . . .
In my childhood, heavy snow meant there was no school. This meant no classrooms and no teachers directing our attention to the blackboard instead of looking out the window where large snowflakes drifted to the ground. And to a kid, there is nothing better than a snow day.
My friends and I would grab snow shovels, and then we went door to door, asking if we could shovel the walkway for money. We usually shoveled just enough to get order a large pizza and a few bottles of soda
My feet would be cold and my fingers would go numb; however, a piece of me felt invincible. And when the sun went down and the streetlamps turned on—the sky was still light from the reflection of the ground, which was covered in purified blanket of white snow. I assume the way I felt then is the way you’re supposed to feel when you’re a kid.
While at the verge of my young adult life, I was away from my home and everything I knew as familiar. It was 1990. The Old Man had just passed away and I returned back to the upstate farm where I lived. I was strange at first. It seemed as if I lost the ability to feel anything other than the loss of my father.I had seen snowfalls before but nothing like the one I was about to see.
Tucked in the mountains of Hancock New York, the farmhouse overlooked what seemed to be a series of mountains, which entwined like the fingers from two opposing hands, clasping, and then coming together.
The view from the front porch was unlike anything I had ever seen before. The snow was heavy and deep. The sky was gray—and the world sat perfectly still.
There was something to this for me. In my moment of sadness, I looked out at the tops of tree-covered mountains. I looked at the evergreens which were laced with white. There was no power in the house, and other than the basic care for the barn and its animals, there was little for us to do.
It was suggested that the members of the house go sleigh riding.
But no one had a sleigh.
Then it was suggested, “We can use garbage bags.”
I admit I was not interested. I would have rather held on to the pain I felt—but I was not given a choice.
We were all given black garbage bags. We cut one holes at the bottom of the large bag for our head and holes in the sides for our arms. We were then instructed to place the bag over our heads, and place our head and arms through the slots that we cut open.
I was slow up the hill. Perhaps I was afraid to let go of the sadness. I was afraid to let go and feel something besides the pain and loss of my father. I did not understand that I was allowed to give in—I did not understand that it was okay to let go of the hurt and that guilt was the last emotion I should be holding
Way up high on a snow-covered hill, I did as I was told, and I slid down the long slope with a garbage bag over my body.
It was good . . .
For my next trip, I tried spinning as I went down. Then I decided to dive head first so I could feel every bump on the hill. I yelled and screamed with everyone else. I forgot about the sadness. I forgot about The Farm and my reasons for being away from home. I was allowed to feel like a kid again. And had that storm never occurred, I might not have understood that it is okay to let go of something sad in exchange for something good.
I see these storms as the perfect intervention. I see them as a natural suggestion to stay indoors, get close to the ones you love, light some candles, and if at all possible—try a game of trivial pursuit.
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Painting by Artist: Thomas KinkaOne of my favorites