Posts Tagged ‘blizzard’


Back in March, when I was complaining about a series of heavy spring snows in New England, Deb said, “Save a picture for August, when we really need it.” I think the time has come.

Folks in the Northeast are not used to having temperatures day after day in the 90s combined with crazy-high humidity. Friends my age seem to find it totally enervating. If we can’t get to a bit of shade or find a breeze, we just sit like lumps — or move ve-ery slowly. Not all houses have air conditioning. In the past, it was seldom needed.

So it’s time to stop complaining about the heat and remember how I complained about the cold in March. Deb was right. One’s perspective changes. The picture above was taken on March 13 when I really would have preferred to see spring flowers coming up. Looks quite pleasant to me now.

I also have a few summer pictures to share. The tiny bird on what appears to be a telephone pole is actually a very large, fierce bird called an osprey. Towns along the New England coast construct special nesting platforms to keep osprey from building on telephone poles. You may see many such platforms if you take Amtrak through Connecticut. At this time of year, there may be several young ones — no longer babies — perfecting their new fishing skills.

And I include a bouquet of local wildflowers, the boats in New Shoreham’s Great Salt Pond, and four photos demonstrating how the lotus at a neighbor’s house looks as it opens. I have recorded this other years, but every year, it’s a miracle.

I can’t help noting that even the lotus seemed to take the sweltering summer rather hard. Several blossoms simply bowed over, hiding their faces somewhere among their roots in the pond. I know how they feel.









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“My hair was over in the grass/ My naked ears heard the day pass.”

These bent-over bushes, usually so tall, look resentful to me: “How can you keep letting this happen?”

“Well,” I respond, “I can’t control the weather.”

And then it occurs to me that I am actually relieved there are still things humans can’t control.

One thing we can control, usually anyway, is our decision making. I often think about how hard it is to make a decision with incomplete information and, when you look back at what you ended up doing, how obvious the choice seems.

Usually I spend two nights in Providence at Suzanne and Erik’s so I can volunteer in a couple Rhode Island ESL classes. But early Monday I had to decide where to spend my blizzard. One report quoted a manageable 2-4 inches. Others said 6-12. I even heard 18 inches was a possibility in places.

Without complete information about the amount of snowfall projected, the time that the blizzard would hit, and the likelihood of classes being canceled, I struggled to decide whether to stay in Providence or go back to Massachusetts.

Another wrinkle: I had promised to take an Eritrean refugee to a parking garage to see if there were any job openings, and I knew that if I left Providence late, I could hit heavy Boston traffic and might have to drive in the dark, which I have been avoiding lately.

In the end, I took The Eritrean student to the garage. The man in charge wasn’t exactly friendly to her, but she was thrilled to have practiced asking for work and to have received a URL for making an online application. She told me she hadn’t had any ideas about how to get started.

A very independent woman, the student insisted on taking the bus home, and I headed north.

As it happened, I was going to be on my own whether in Providence or at home, and today being at home seems so obvious I wonder why I was anxious about making the right choice. At home, my car is sheltered, there’s a greater possibility of someone checking on me, and a reduced likelihood of power failures. (The town has a municipal light plant, and outages are both rare and quickly fixed if they do occur.)

What was your last many-moving-parts decision? Doesn’t it seem obvious to you now?

Bushes to homeowner: “Seriously?”


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020115-Main-St-at 1pm-empty





I’m running out of things to say about snowstorms. Today was the third day in one week that we were told to work at home.

Asakiyume was doing a project for us and went to her Post Office on foot to mail it back, walking in the street because the sidewalks weren’t clear. She said it was good, though, as she got to see two igloos and some kids playing in the snow.

I walked as far as my own Post Office for the exercise — a little too much exercise as I tried to stay out of the way of snowplows. A few folks out on cross-country skis probably shouldn’t have been, although I confess that my husband and I did that in a past snowstorm.

I kept thinking about the blizzard when I was in nursery school and it was my mother’s turn to do the carpool. Her car broke down, and there she was with a bunch of 4-year-olds on the side of the road wondering what to do. She flagged down the dry-cleaner delivery man and talked him into letting us ride in back among the coats and suits and hangers while he did his rounds. No doubt it was against all sorts of company insurance regulations and child-safety laws, but somehow we all made it.

In my town center today only the bookshop and a cafe were open. On Thoreau Street, the gas station, Cumberland Farms, a liquor store, and Dunkin Donuts were functioning reliably as ever.

I was winded from climbing over snow banks when I got home. I decided to make hot cider. Later in the afternoon, I decided to make hot cocoa.

Then I went out and lit the ice lantern.

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Now, here’s an idea. You’ve heard of Uber-type services that you contact when you need a ride and that charge on the basis of demand?

Well, according to Patrick Clark at Bloomberg, the time may have arrived for calling a snowplow just when you need a snowplow.

“With a blizzard gathering over the ocean,” he reports, “J and R Lawn and Landscape decided to send part of its snowplow fleet on a 300-mile drive. The landscaping company operates 20 snowplows in and around Cicero, N.Y. A tech startup called Plows and Mowz—sort of an Uber for snowplows—had promised there would be lucrative work in Boston. ‘It only snows where it snows,’ says Ted Hoffman, who handles sales and marketing for J and R. His small company was willing to bet four plows, eight workers, and money for gas and hotel rooms on a faraway post-blizzard boom. …

“Plowz and Mowz caters to homeowners who don’t pay for a regular service but want occasional help clearing a driveway. To meet customer demand, the startup uses software to assign new jobs to drivers who are already planning to be in the area. …

“Plowz isn’t the only entrepreneur with a vision for the future of snow removal. ‘On-demand is cute, but it’s not snowplowing,’ says Yeh Diab, co-founder of Boston-based PlowMe, a second startup trying to using technology to improve an age-old business. The snowplow, as he sees it, is less like a taxi (seeking customers, wherever they might be) and more like a bus (serving customers along a set path). …

“Plow drivers needed to improve their efficiency with regular customers along set routes, he determined, while an on-demand system offered a succession of one-time customers. PlowMe is designed to be a route-management tool and a marketplace in which drivers can trade or sell parts of their routes to others.”

My grandchildren know that in Geopolis, a really big snow calls for bringing out the supremely competent, cool, and collected truck called Katy (see Virginia Lee Burton’s classic Katy and the Big Snow), but if you don’t live in Geopolis, other options do exist.

Lots more snowplowing angles here.


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I got an unusual number of hits from readers this morning. I never know why. Is it because we are having a big snow in New England?

Let me give you a couple preliminary snow pics just in case. I hope to do a regular post this evening.



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snow meter height

I don’t know how to use our television, and the radio has only three channels, so I ended up streaming WPRI out of Providence.

I follow WPRI’s Ted Nesi on twitter, and he kept tweeting useful storm tidbits, so I thought I’d try his tv station. Things were a little chaotic there, which felt real. At one point Ted had his mike on accidentally, and I could hear, “I got stuff! Take me, please!”

Overall, Saturday was a quiet day at the Woebegone Chalet. I caught up on old newspapers (new ones had not been delivered for two days). I made guacamole. Put in a laundry. Did some exercises.

After a while I bundled up and climbed over the front fence, getting my boot stuck and full of snow. I hailed a couple young men from the Academy who were digging out a neighbor’s car. They agreed to shovel my front walk for the price I usually pay for both walks. It was well worth it. I returned from a hike around town (everything closed but Dunkin’ Donuts) to a cleared walk.

long view

coming soon


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