You Want a White Christmas? I’ll Give You a White Christmas
Wednesday, 24 December 2008
I realize that Portland, Maine isn’t the only place in the world that got a lot of snow this week, but what a whole lot of snow it was - and is still.
The storm began on Sunday morning. It was predicted to go well into the night with winds at 35 to 40 miles an hour resulting in humongous drifts. Travel, said the weather service, is discouraged. No kidding.
I read somewhere once that the Inuit language has 17 words to describe different kinds of snow. (What are the chances, I wonder, that they are all four-letter words.) The advantage of windy snow, I have now learned, is that it doesn’t collect on electric wires and trees so there is less possibility of a power outage. Their are, of course, disadvantages too.
By early afternoon on Sunday, storm raging, a parking ban was called by the City. That means no cars on any street from 10PM to 6AM. There were already six or seven inches of snow on the ground as my two condo mates and I did some shoveling, arranged our three cars toe to heel in the driveway and then repaired to our respective homes to sit out the storm.
First thing upon waking Monday morning, I checked outside my bedroom window. This is what my covered deck looked like. You can tell a lot about how much snow we got from how far it piled up around the table legs and fence.
The City did a fine job of clearing our street in the wee hours and by the time I looked out the front window at about 5:30AM, a city truck was even pushing the four-foot piles of snow out of the driveway entrances on the block - an unexpected gift I hadn't seen in the previous two winters I’ve lived here.
My upstairs neighbor, who leaves for work at 5:30AM each day, had no trouble backing out of the driveway.
At 8:30AM, my downstairs neighbor and I joined forces to dig out our snowbound cars in the driveway. For some reason, Graham’s car looked as it would in any “normal,” relatively big storm (that's a front fender of his car in the lower right of the photo). But take a look at my little PT Cruiser. Where is it?
That’s about five feet of snow on top of my car. A neighbor looked at it and said, “You win.” Yeah, right. A bunch of shoveling is what I won. Still, it’s an amazing sight. Here’s a view from the neighbor's side porch.
After a couple of hours of huffing and puffing with many rest breaks, we had cleared a path in the driveway and cleared our two cars of enough snow to get them out of the driveway and onto the street without too much slipping and sliding - of us and the cars. We would return after lunch for driveway clearing.
No sooner was I upstairs and out of my wet clothes than, checking email, I found another parking ban announcement for Monday night so the city could clear a wider swath in the street. Mostly, however, we just got more snow in the driveway and spent several more hours shoveling in two sessions on Tuesday.
I have discovered a few thigh, arm and back muscles I had forgotten I have and you can get a sense of how much snow we moved around from this shot of the driveway.
Mostly what we got from the city's second go 'round at clearing streets was much higher piles of snow. I took this shot with the camera at eye height from the sidewalk in front of my house.
The charm of a white Christmas has faded for me, at least for a couple of days until my muscles return to their normal benign state, but perhaps readers in warmer climes will appreciate the photos - now that I've done all the work.
Here’s little Ollie last week, when he was still recuperating from his hospital stay with a pink bandage to cover the place where his IV had been.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, James J Henry Jr has for us A Story For Small Granchildren: The Christmas Tree.]
Oh my, rest those aching muscles.
All I could think of when viewing the pictures were the smiles on my 3 and 6 year old granddaughters if we had snow like that. No snow in Tennessee and it it pouring rain at the moment. Special wishes sent your way. Because of you I have experienced 9 months of special writing and new internet friends.
Posted by: ernestine | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 04:15 AM
Oh this brought back memories of growing up in Minnesota! Between the snowplows and our shoveling we'd often have piles over 8 feet high. That is when my neighborhood friend and I would climb to the top of one, dig out a little nest and pretend we were eagles. Complete with sitting on and "incubating" our snow eggs!
Now living in the DC area we have completely missed all the latest snow much to my disappointment.
So glad to see Ollie looking and feeling better.
Posted by: possumlady | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 04:46 AM
The snow scene there looks much like the one here in Boston. Oh, Ollie, looks so comfortable, even with the Band-aid.
Posted by: Rhea | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 05:05 AM
yup, we got it too and we have a long long narrow driveway and a Kabota tractor to deal with it. Olof blew the snow and then bucket loaded it away from the elder's deck in preparation for more to come.
Last winter my back door was totally blocked. Much as I love skiing, this is intense.
And it's snowing again today but should be rain in Portland. Hope you lose some.
Sounds like some teamwork with your neighbors though.
Posted by: zuleme | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 05:19 AM
I loved the pictures but the nurse in me wants to warn you and others about shoveling snow. Please be careful. You were smart to take breaks. Snow is heavier then it appears as I am sure Ronni can attest to. Just be careful.
Merry Christmas everyone
Posted by: NancyB | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 05:45 AM
possumlady: "disappointed" at no snow in D.C.? Hey, I've got a guest room and you're welcome to hang out their and help with the shoveling next time.
zuleme: It's SNOWING here again, right now. I'm praying for rain later.
NancyB: I took plenty of rest breaks and did more shoving snow than shoveling snow. Your admonition is important.
Posted by: Ronni Bennett | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 06:21 AM
Chicago is having a similar winter. Of course I can't and don't need to shovel (my car is in a heated garage), but my six or seven hour wait at the airport nearly equals your experience. I, too, have had enough white Christmas.
I finally arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where my niece and her family live. There's no snow here; I've had enough for a while. I still love Chicago, though.
Happy holidays to all!
Posted by: Marlys Styne | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 07:03 AM
Argh!!!! My daughter, who lives up in Brunswick, is probably in heaven! She loves snow. I wish I could send her over to help you but she's working at L.L. as well as running her shop.
I no longer share her enthusiasm and am delighted that the prediction of a high of 52 here today so the ice we had is going away. (Hallelujah!) I nearly fell a couple times.
I'm glad you your neighbor helps!
Take care of yourself and I'm glad Ollie is mending nicely!
Posted by: Kay Dennison | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 07:13 AM
Seems like large swaths of the country are getting what constitute, locally, Too Much Snow. I prefer our version of it to yours, I admit, although I think you have a better chance of getting where you need to go than we have. On the other hand, those of us at the valley floor level don't have much shoveling to do (or any, if we don't care about getting out), and it should all start melting off by this weekend.
Thank you. The pictures are pretty, and humbling. And your description of your storm reminds me that, little though I enjoy ours, it could be much worse.
Posted by: Laura | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 07:23 AM
Because of my mishap I missed hearing about Ollie's. I'm sorry he was ill, but glad he's feeling better.
All you snow lovers can keep it. I am a sun worshiper and the only snow I want to see is on photos. I know it's beautiful, but it's also cold. Three years in New England and on winter in Wisconsin cured me of every wanting to be in snow again.
Posted by: Darlene | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 07:59 AM
Your pictures do tell the story. I also used to think how cool a white Christmas would be but am sick of the whole thing by now in my part of Oregon. This has been an odd snow with areas 20 miles from us having none, but out here, it's a cling to the lines and trees kind that lost us power for several days and won't go away conveniently as is more usual for us.
In addition to the cold, bad roads, loss of electricity, we are left with the worry that if the rains come as they predict, the end result will be flooding. The worst floods we have had here on the farm have been snow and ice turning to rain when the normally polite little creek becomes a river.
Living most of my life in the Willamette Valley, I have seen very few white Christmases, and often have thought how pretty it would be. This year though, the song White Christmas is on my black list!
Posted by: Rain | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 08:06 AM
Here in Brockton, Mass. it looks very similar...hate snow - wish I could afford a condo in Florida from Nov. to April with all the amenities I have here. Car in garage and son in law plows....THANK GOODNESS...Ollie looks good...Your car is adorable...love it ...Bah Hum Bug - Snow!!!!
Posted by: Sheila Halet | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 08:31 AM
Ronni, believe it or not, you were lucky to be in Portland, ME, NOT Portland, OR.
The northwest has gotten over a foot of snow, and as you may remember, there is exactly zero infrastructure for winter storms--no plows, no salt, and (worst of all) no driving experience with prolonged ice and snow conditions. The rest you can guess.
Things are, to put it mildly, grim. Everyone is just reeling, often literally.
I've been able to avoid driving, but sometime in the next week, I am going to be learning how to install tire chains. I know we need to learn new things once we're no longer kids, but this would not have been my first choice to energize a few new brain cells.
So, so glad Ollie is better! Wouldn't he love it to know how many fans he has?
Posted by: Paula | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 08:47 AM
If I lived there I would just stock up on groceries before winter and wait til the spring thaw.
Posted by: Wally | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 09:13 AM
Those pictures took me back! I grew up in Buffalo and like many departed at 18 for more opportunities and less weather. Every year until she died, my mother would send me the same pictures of shoulder high snow in the driveway and, until well into her 80s, of her shoveling out.
Posted by: janinsanfran | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 09:43 AM
Word to the Wise.
No No No...You are NOT to shovel any more snow. Put on your thinking cap and figure out what to do instead.
buy a snow blower? Go in with your condo neighbors.
Run an ad and hire someone just for the snow days.
Call the city of Portland and tell them you are past 65 and can't shovel anymore. I bet they have ways to do it for you.
Just brain storm
Do not shovel. :)
I do not want you laid up with OLLIE having to take care of YOU
Posted by: chancy | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 10:03 AM
Boy! With that much shoveling, you don't need more exercise, do you?
Hope you still have a nice holiday. Thinking of you and hoping you don't get too much snow.
Lovely pic of Ollie. Give him my love too.
Posted by: Claude | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 10:10 AM
Ok, we got lots of snow here in Minneapolis, but hands down you guys win the prize, don't know what that would be but you'd get it. The amount of snow you got reminds me of the Halloween snow storm we got in 91'. It snowed for 2 1/2 days. When all was done we had over 4 feet of snow. I had a Honda hatch back at the time and had to do some major snow shoveling just to get at it. WOW, rest yourself well, glad to know that you have help shoveling, and good health to Ollie.
P.S. I do like the snow for cross country skiing and dog sledding.
Posted by: Bridgemor | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 11:03 AM
I'm still dreaming of a white Christmas so all that snow looks good to me. Of course, that is because I did not have to move any of it. I am glad to see Ollie looking so fine and wish him and you a very happy holiday.
Posted by: la peregrina | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 02:12 PM
Ronni, this winter has started out horribly over most of the country. I feel bad to think of you coping with such a mess.
We don't usually get much snow here (somewhere between the lower midwest and the upper south) but have had ice a couple of times already. You can't even shovel that away!
Our son up north bought a snowblower this year and says it's the best investment he ever made.
"May all your Christmases be white," sounds like a curse to me, akin to the old Arab curse, "May the fleas of ten thousand camels infest your armpits." But the fleas would be a lot easier to get rid of than all that snow.
Posted by: joni | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 03:07 PM
We have a huge week of snow here, too, starting yesterday with over a foot of snow.
Huge white christmas in Santa Fe.
Posted by: MotherPie | Wednesday, 24 December 2008 at 03:19 PM
It's Christmas night in Melbourne and it was a gorgeous 27 degrees today (that's 80 in your temperature), beautiful blue sky, not a cloud in sight.
What’s this "snow" you talk about?
Posted by: Peter Tibbles | Thursday, 25 December 2008 at 01:17 AM
A friend of mine retired to colorado and told me they have to have enough property to store (?) the snow they remove from their driveways, sidewalks, etc.
Good thing they love skiing...
Here in NJ we keep getting hit with light snows and then sleet/rain that freezes. Dangerous!
We haven't really had any white Christmases for a while...
Posted by: Susan G | Thursday, 25 December 2008 at 03:59 AM
All that snow looks pretty neat to those of us without snow and wishing we HAD some!
And - all that shoveling is gonna keep you young, Ronni! Well, ok, it might hurt a bit at first, but THEN... it'll keep you young. :)
Posted by: Nikki | Thursday, 25 December 2008 at 05:25 AM
Woof! I'm tired just looking at pictures and we had snow, too, here in NY. But then I think of the poor souls sleeping in airports...I'd rather be shoveling my snow.
Posted by: notdotdot | Thursday, 25 December 2008 at 08:10 AM
Good exercise program, anyway...
Oh for a garage, huh?
Posted by: DW | Thursday, 25 December 2008 at 04:45 PM
As a lifelong Buffalonian, it's fun to read about someone being introduced to northern winters. And I'm resisting the urge to say, "Pshaw, you call that snow?! Why, back in '77..."
I bought myself a pair of Stabil-icers from LL Bean; they're like studded snow tires for your boots, to give you some traction on ice or hard-packed snow.
Posted by: mary jamison | Friday, 26 December 2008 at 07:02 AM
I posted a photo of my Milwaukee cousin using his snow blower on my Solstice entry, and I got a reply from another Maine blogger. He said he had a snow blower about the same size, but it wasn't near big enough to tackle the wall of snow he had to deal with.
You have my sympathy.
Posted by: Mage B | Friday, 26 December 2008 at 10:27 AM