Monday, January 25, 2016


I’m back! Those of you who live in what’s now the Great White Northeast, you know what I’m talking about. For the rest of the country, here’s how it went down: starting late Friday night and running almost to midnight on Saturday, our part of the US got socked by what’s already known as the Blizzard of 2016. Pennsylvania even set a new record, with 28 inches of snow recorded at Harrisburg. South of us I hear they got even more. Yeah, I know. New York and New England are laughing at us and calling us wussies right now. Go ahead. You folks have earned the right. This year was our turn. Next year it could be the Midwest. Or Florida.Wouldn't that tick my brother off.

I can’t say we weren’t warned, and those of us who prepared beforehand probably did okay. I stocked up on milk, snack foods and water before Thursday so I wouldn’t have to buck any crowds on Friday. I also got the snow shovel out of the shed and brought it into the house. Good thing, too. The snow came with high winds, and those winds were blowing toward my house. I just happened to open the front door Saturday morning and discovered I had drifts piling up on my porch. We’re talking close to two feet of drifting snow here. I had to shovel throughout the day just to make sure I’d be able to get the door open. My back door did get snowed shut, because I didn’t think to check on that until noon, and by then it was too late. I hardly ever use that door anyway. Just as well, since now it won’t open and I can’t get to it from the outside. When you’re 5’4” and the snow’s in three-foot drifts, wading drops off the list of options, even in the soft powdery stuff.

Apparently Governor Wolf grew a brain, because Harrisburg ordered a travel ban for Pennsylvania for Saturday, to keep all but essential personnel off the roads. I’m not sure why anyone would be out anyway, except maybe for the adventure of it. I’m pretty sure everything was closed. Wonder if the WalMart was open? If it was, I’ll bet they had people there. During a similar storm in the ‘90s, I went for a walk into downtown Ephrata and found a store open. I had money on me, so I bought something. Why not? He’d opened his place of business when anyone sane would have called it a day and stayed home. It was the least I could do.

Oh yeah, something was open. I was watching the local news. There was a chain convenience store in southern Lancaster County that had been open all day. (The employee lived across the street.) The news camera showed the place. It had customers. It had cars parked out front. This was around 6:00 at night, after a full day of snow and blizzard conditions. So much for the travel ban.

Me? I just stayed in the house and worked on a massive freelance assignment. Every couple of hours I’d shovel the porch. Nothing on TV. We’re lucky in that we didn’t lose power, although I’d charged the laptop’s battery the day before. If we had lost power, no big. I’d have set up shop next to a window with paper and a pen. Long live longhand!

And then came Sunday morning, and the cleanup.

At this point I’d like to offer my thanks to the retired men of America. They’re the greatest people on earth. They’ve done their stint in the workforce and earned their idle time. Best of all, they’ve got all the big-boy toys: power mowers, leave blowers, and especially snow blowers, all of which they love to trot out and play with. These guys live for storms like this. Sure, the young guys have snowmobiles, but the older guys are more practical. How are you supposed to get that snowmobile out of the garage without cleaning the driveway first?

Therefore, I salute my retired neighbors with snow blowers, because they cleared a path to the street for my car after the plow blocked me in. (The plow blocks everybody in. They’ve been forbidden by the landlord or the management group or whoever it was who contracted them from clearing our driveways for us, for some legal reason. So all they can clear is the street itself, which blocks all our cars. Sucks, but there y’are.) If it wasn’t for these boys and their toys, I’d be outside excavating my car right now instead of working on this blog. As it stands, I was good by late Sunday afternoon, with car, driveway, and sidewalks cleared. Direct sunlight can handle the rest.

And that was the Blizzard of 2016, as it affected Lancaster County, PA. Weather conditions are supposed to be mostly sunny and above freezing for the rest of the week. That’s how it usually goes. Nature dumps a pile of snow on top of us humans and screws up our lives, then a week later the temps zoom up to 50 and everything melts out. Nature is a bitch. Yeah, well, we’ve got pollution on our side. We’ll fix you.

Time to get the car out and see how the roads are. I’ll wait a day or two before I go near a grocery store. Let the post-storm swarm die down. If this happens again, I’m going to go to Florida and move in with my brother, even though I can’t stand his wife. And if the snow follows me, I swear Nature’s getting a punch in the nose. With a snow shovel. Nature isn’t the only one who can be a bitch.

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