Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Winter Is Coming

If the weather prognostications are to be believed, we may have our first "measurable snow" here in NoVa in the course of this week*. Yes, Eddard, winter is coming ...

I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where we expected - and got - a lot of snow every winter. I remember walking to the bus stop (while I was in elementary school) and to the high school (which was about a half mile from our house) in all sorts of weather, but we were used to it. In Pennsylvania and points north, people learn how to drive in snow and local governments plan effectively to deal with it. Driving is miserable and nerve-wracking, but schools and stores remain open, roads are either cleared or blocked off**, and people manage. I'm sure that we had some school closures back then, but I don't remember any.

This is not the case here in my adopted home of Northern Virginia.

Almost everyone who lives here comes from somewhere else ... usually from somewhere else where it's a lot warmer and the techniques of winter driving are learned by watching news broadcasts of cars slowly spinning down icy streets. As a result, it doesn't take much beyond the vague rumor of a slight chance of possible isolated flakes of snow to cause utter panic.

We do have an advantage, though, because Congress has made total gridlock into such an art form that local traffic imitates it on good days, and so there's little difference between ordinary gridlock and winter-induced gridlock. The main difference is that we don't get to vote for winter-induced gridlock.

Here's a story ...

Back in the early 1980s we lived south of where we do now, in the NoVa suburb of Woodbridge. I worked at Fort Belvoir, about five miles to the north, and Agnes worked in Crystal City, about another seven or eight miles further north. One winter we had a mighty snowstorm that paralyzed the entire region. As it happened, it hit during the day that Agnes's company had its Christmas party. Our daughter was in day care in Woodbridge, and I was in the middle with the car (we only had one). When the storm arrived, I left work and drove south to Woodbridge to pick up our daughter (rather than pay the exorbitant fees for picking her up late), then back north to pick up Agnes, then back south again through the storm to get home. Actually, Agnes drove the stretch from Crystal City to home - growing up in the foothills of the Alps had provided some good training for dealing with the horrendous conditions we were facing. It was more than a little nerve-wracking, particularly since Agnes - like many Germans - is a graduate of the Heinz Guderian School of Aggressive Driving. The total time required for the trip - Fort Belvoir to Woodbridge to Crystal City and back to Woodbridge - was about five hours, and required an intravenous transfusion of schnapps at the end.

So ...

Been there, done that, don't need the snow. My order is in for two or three gentle, picturesque snow days between now and spring. And my order is in for Spring to start as early as possible. January would be fine.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* The Trump administration hasn't taken over yet, and so a white Christmas won't be mandatory until next year; however, the snow jobs will continue to be intense.

** If you've ever been to Pittsburgh, you know about some of our nearly-vertical hills that cannot be cleared in winter, and are simply closed off until spring.


Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Hi Bill -Not sure which is worse....being flat with a ton more snow than Pit or hills and less snow. Hmm....I think the answer is neither. :-)
My parents are buried under 2 ft and another 1-2 ft. expected. This is why I never go to Erie over the holidays. One year long ago I was trapped there for over a week. I love my family but all relatives stuck in one house for a week before we could leave made me rethink visiting in winter ever again. :-) Not enough wine or liquor for that. I'll take my quiet NoVa holiday.

Mike said...

Stock up on milk and bread and don't even look out the window.

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Go on a Netflix binge. "Mozart of theJungle" is back. Bonus: The Amy Fisher aria.