Thursday, December 08, 2005

Yo Ho Ho It's Going to Snow

Starting sometime this evening, it will begin to snow. This we know for a fact. What is not known yet is how much it will snow and when it might stop. Will it start snowing overnight, with most of the groundcover deposited before dawn, in which case schools would probably be on two-hour delay? Will it snow through the morning hours, meaning that because the neighborhood and side streets get plowed last and because it is Friday, school will be cancelled? Will it snow more than 6 inches, meaning that, even if school is cancelled, it will still be difficult to drive the kids places to find something to do?

The batty way that people deal with snow down here used to drive me nuts. It has taken me years to realize that I am meeting an immovable object. Now I know this. Now I just let the hysterical ravings of other people and the local news media wash over me. Let's see, list of crazies: spreading salt on the streets before it snows (passing cars brush all the salt into the gutter); spreading dirt on the street before it snows (snow covers the dirt rendering its traction capacity negligible); people run to the store to buy bread and milk for no particular reason; county plows the 'snow emergency routes' (major transportation arteries) obsessively and repeatedly while it is snowing, but not the side streets (so that, I presume, the ambulances can travel up and down the main avenues broadcasting over a loud speaker, 'bring your sick and injured to the curb!' because they are unable to get into the neighborhoods where someone is having a heart attack).

Yes, they plow those arteries over and over again so that 'emergency vehicles can get through'. Hmmmm . . . when I went into premature labor with Edith one winter during an 8-12 inch snowfall, the ambulance was unable to get into our neighborhood to retrieve me. We had to wake up our nextdoor neighbor who had a 4-wheel drive vehicle to take us down to the hospital.

It is startling to me to remember that I went to school in Vermont. I would stand, hatless, at the bus stop in subzero weather. Even if it was snowing, the bus would come for us. The bus would still come even if the road hadn't been plowed yet and there was about 2 inches of snow on it. The bus would still come if it had been snowing overnight and there was already 12 inches of snow on the ground, with a nice, slushy mess all over the roadbed. If we were going to get 18 or more inches of snow, the county would give some thought to the idea of sending kids home early or might think about canceling school. The same manufacturers have been making school buses now for decades. They sell the same models to customers who live either in the WDC area or in Vermont. But, somehow, the buses that are delivered to Vermont get sprinkled with magic fairy dust that allows them to navigate actual snow.

Alas, I must go out into the pre-snow frenzy, with moms in SUVs cutting off other moms in more modest cars in fits of desperation worthy of the sentiments usually expressed when a foreign army is invading your city. I have errands that absolutely need to be done today, snow coming or not. Wish me luck.

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