Next week is going to be a very busy week, and a very important week. I suppose I will get a lot of time to prepare for it this weekend as the weather fearmongerers are at it again. We are to prepare for a snow storm of historic proportion. My area is not expected to get hit as hard as say New England, but I need to take this storm, called Nemo, seriously.
Seriously. Nemo? An epic disasterous snow storm has been named after one of Disney’s most beloved characters? I wonder if there are royalties in it for ABC for every time the Weather Channel mentions the name. I do not see the point to have to give snow storms names now, but it looks like it is something I have to accept.
But again, seriously, the weather service could not come up with a more ferocious or evil name that begins with an “N”? Nosferatu. Napoleon. Nixon. Nina (of 99 Luftballoons).
In areas of severe amounts of snowfall, you never hear local residents express fear, despiration, panic as today’s trends seem to take us. Syracuse, Erie, Denver, Minnesota all see more snow in one day often more than we see in an entire year. Growing up, I remember being able to shovel out tunnels from the snow piles, barely able to lift my legs above the surface of the snowfall. Of course, as a child, this often meant a snow day off from school. Snowball battles, skiing, forts, were all the pure enjoyment of a major snowfall.
I recall in my high school years, attending school in a district that did not provide bus transportation, we never saw snow days. You either took public transportation, a relative drive you to school, or you walked. Now if you will excuse me, I will now channel my grandparents for the following speech… “why, when I was a kid, I had to walk uphill and downhill, four miles each way, across high bridges, heavy rains, head high snow piles and…” Phew they are gone just before they can add “barefoot”. But where I lived that is exactly what happened. Whenever I visit home with my family, I am always quick to remind them, I actually did it.
But on February 11, 1983, we did get hit with a major snow storm that did have an impact on school, over two feet. It did shut everything down. But I definitely do not recall every hearing “end of the world” tones and having to rush out and strip the shelves of everything from bread to toilet paper. It would snow. The snow would stop. We would shovel. Then move on. In fact, while many schools had cancelled even the next day, our schools were open, even without a delay.
I still love the snow today. I have had to alter my lifestyle a bit due to recent health issues. My heart surgery caused an approximate ten degree drop in temperature tolerance meaning the cold bothers me a little easier. To think, just five years ago, I was still wearing shorts in January and February regardless of the weather. Pulmonary issues make it a little more difficult to trudge in the snow. But then of course, there is age. Once we hit our mid-30’s it seems we become concerned with the act of shoveling snow. It is a fact, that snow shoveling is one of the more strenuous acts many of us do, made worse by the fact that it is not often that we have to do it, and we do not train for it. But we have heard story after story of someone having a heart attack while shoveling snow.
Nearly five years ago, unknowingly, I could have faced that fate. With a fatal condition developing over the years from radiation therapy for my Hodgkin’s Disease, the main artery to my heart at that point of winter was now close to 90% blocked or scarred. As it would be discovered just two months later during a stress test, it was literally seconds before the blood flow was restricted to my heart. I felt it happen. It scared me. I stopped. The feeling stopped. I went about my business. Until April. Following that stress test and subsequent heart bypass surgery, I was told that I had actually prevented what was destined to be a fatal heart attack. This should have been enough of an attention-getter.
The following winter after my heart surgery, I must admit, I was outside with the snow shovel as always. I have a three care driveway and approximately 150 feet of sidewalk to shovel. That winter was not particularlly difficult as far as deep amounts or frequency of storms, but I was out there with shovel in hand. I found out, that I have neighbors as well, who knew of my health history and quickly came out with their own shovels and snow blowers scolding me to put the shovel down and get back inside.
But being from a stubborn family, I believed that I could still shovel. Two things I did under my own power, mow my lawn and shovel snow. Last winter, I finally caved in. After the first of three decent snowfalls, I could tell that my body was no longer up to shoveling, lifting, and tossing snow. To push it any harder would have been foolish. And I know that (see the post “Stress Kills). So prior to the second storm, I broke down and got a snowblower. And it was not so bad using it. And I could still enjoy being out in the snow, and not end up being “out” in the snow.
So for those of us in the path of the Might Nemo, have fun, do not be afraid. Snow is no different than when we were children. But the consequences of not using common sense as adults is what is to be of concern. If you must shovel, pay the neighbor kid to do it.
writer’s note = I woke up this morning (February 9th) to a history, epic, monstrous two inches of dry powder snow. Of course, the local grocery store shelves were empty, gas got bumped up a nickel a gallon just in time… thank you Nemo and the weather mongerers for the shot into the local economy you gave us.