parens binubus

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  • Monday, March 19, 2007
    Imagine what they could do if winter were year round?
    We have had little to no "plowable snow" this year.

    In the Boston area, this brings frowns and grumbles - NOT sighs of relief, as those in sunnier climates presume. Somehow, those in Florida and California assume that we're just miserable over the fact that beautifully unique and fluffy whiteness comes down from the sky in the winter here. We're not. People who live in Boston have as much of the ability to move to milder climates as those who find themselves in the boiling infernos that I would hate to live in.

    We live here because we like it. Perhaps some people are the other way around - they like it because they live here. I've been both. I liked it when I lived here as a kid, and while there were things about the SF Bay area's weather that I learned to enjoy (after about a year of depression over the lack of REAL seasons), I moved back to New England because I like it.

    I like snow. It is fun. I like the cold. I find it 1000x more invigorating than I find the heat. The heat makes me want to melt into a puddle and cry - the snow and cold makes me want to pick up the pace and spin in circles and laugh.

    So I, like thousands of others, have been sad about this snowless winter.

    What's odd is that the winter of no snow turned the entire region into snow-ignorami. We had a "storm" on Valentine's Day, which mostly produced freezing spit from the sky all day. Then rain. A few times, the rain drops turned a little while, but mostly - it was rain. When I went home that evening, I was up to my mid-calf in puddles of slushy water. It was horrendous.

    not as horrendous as what that evenings' flash-freeze did to the roads, sidewalks and cars the next day though. Everything turned to ice. Very hard ice.

    There was a LOT of complaining.

    In my town, we have a law. Which is legally enforced by the issuing of tickets: property owners must keep their sidewalks clear of snow and ice. I think they have 12 hours? 6 hours? after precipitation ends, before they can be ticketed for not clearing the walk.

    This law is relatively important in an urban area. I didn't realize this when I lived in a rural area. I was used to waking up on a snowy a.m., and having the plows go by on the ROAD, which was all I really needed, because if I wanted to go somewhere, I had to drive. In my car. My dad always shoveled a sidewalk in our yard to our front door, but if he didn't, it didn't really matter. We would just go straight in through the garage to the house. No big deal.

    Here, however, people walk. People walk to the bus stop, they walk to the T, they walk to the library, they walk to work, they walk with their kids to their kids' school, they walk to their kids' preschools (usually with STROLLERS!), they walk to the grocery store. This walking happens on ... you guessed - sidewalks!

    On February 15, it was very hard to get around my smaller city which borders the urban giant known as Boston. driveways, sidewalks, parks pathways (which we have several of -- some with stairs, some not), T stops --- everything was ICE. Some sidewalks were icy on a lower level than others - like people had tried, but still - ice.

    I was kinda pissed, b/c it seemed like most people did NOT try. Not at all. It's irritating when you can't get around town because other people do not follow the rules of the community.

    But then I started to pay attention to a "discussion" being carried out in our town's newspaper. Homeowners were PISSED OFF. Why? Because they claimed they HAD cleared their walks. They cleared their walks and worked hard right up until collapsing into bed at 11 p.m. to keep their walks clear. But at 11:05 or 11:10 p.m., the town plow truck came by, and dumped more slushy water onto their walks, which then froze 100% solid during the 3 degree night, so that when the residents woke up in the a.m., their walks were solid 8" sheets of ice.

    Which was ticket-able.

    I sort of didn't blame them for being pissed. Seemed kinda shitty.

    This past Friday, it snowed again. Then the snow switched over to ice. Then a little rain came. Then the temperatures plummeted again.

    The park behind our apartment building is a sheet of ice. E and I made the mistake of walking across it after her cello lesson on Sunday. It was treacherous.

    On the way to her cello lesson, we didn't make that mistake.

    We walked on the sidewalk.

    The perfectly clear sidewalk.

    And up the path.

    The perfectly clear path.

    Later in the day, as I was walking the girls to various friends' houses, I saw a little mini-plow working on the snow piles - it was taking the snow from the street, and very carefully stacking it on TOP of the snow pile that already existed. This was precision work, I tell you - precision.

    There was a town truck with it's lights on, escorting the mini plow.

    I started to pay attention and found that on the sidewalks all the main(ish) (in addition to the wealthier) roads, the treadmarks of the mini-plow were evident.

    The town seems to be trying to solve the problem.

    I was very very grateful for this during my commute this morning - since it's still cold enough for ice, and for snow - and I was 100% unwilling to donate 1.5 hours of my day to a ride on the bus or the T when my bike would get me here in 20 minutes. It was very interesting to see the very very clean lines of snow - the meticulous piles on the shoulders of the roads, and the very clear sidewalks.

    If only the town had more time to hone its skills this year, it could have been a great winter.

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    posted by Zuska @ 3:35 PM  
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