Last Sunday, I finally broke.
It was about 8:45am and I was leaving for work. Gerry was in the car with me.
We only had a couple of inches of snow fall the night before which in the grand scheme of all things winter wasn’t a lot. Tim had shoveled the driveway at midnight so it was clear.
The plows, however, had come through early that morning and created a crusty, slushy pile about three inches tall right along the edge of the driveway.
Just the perfect consistency for me to get my car stuck.
I haven’t been stuck in snow in my car in years. I grew up in Vermont. I got my driver’s license in the dead of winter and have been in every possible bad weather driving environment. The last time I was stuck was high school maybe? College?
I rocked the car back and forth to get it free, shifting to reverse and first gear like I was taught. Still stuck. I got out and shoveled around the tires and tried again. My tires sank deeper into the muck of sand, snow and ice.
I got out of the car and went into the house. I was choking back tears at this point.
“I’m stuck,” I said to Tim. “I need your help.”
Tim came out and shoveled around the car. He did the shifting gears thing to rock the car and shoveled some more. The wheels spun and finally broke through. I hopped back into the car and with Tim out in the road giving me the all clear, I pulled out from between the seven foot snowbanks that line our driveway and sped off to work.
“Are you okay, Mom?” Gerry asked.
“Yes,” my voice breaking a bit. “I’m just running late now.”
“You know this is the first winter when I’m really tired of it,” Gerry said. “This is a lot to deal with.”
“It sure is, kiddo. I’m done too.”
I’ve lived in New England my whole life and I have never experienced a winter like this. I’ve spent the last four weeks watching my mailbox disappear. My view of our road out our bay window is now obstructed by snowbank taller than Rob Gronkowski. My usual “hey it’s winter we will make it through” attitude has been replaced with anxiety, claustrophobia and complete weariness over what will come next.
At first it was ok. Fun even. A blizzard! How exciting. We watched the weather forecasts and marveled over the drops in pressure. My human barometer ran laps inside the house as I watched the snow maps for our area change color to show a potential two feet of snow coming our way. We stuck a yardstick in the snow to see how much we would get. I baked cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We watched movies and did crafts.
And then one snow day turned into two. Back to back and one week after the next. The forecast showed no break. Every storm was hitting us and we were in the target snow zone. The storms came one right after the other. The storms had non-threatening names like “Juno” and “Linus” but they came charged with high winds, snow, and freezing temperatures. Jim Cantore came to visit.
With each forecast, my winter spirit broke.
Anxiety kicked in for my kids. They would sit by the window and ask if school would be cancelled. Will we have a delay? Will they close? Is it safe for Dad to go to work? Will we lose power? If we lose power, will the fish die? When will they make the call?
The questions would come in rapid fire. Until every phone would ring and the texts would come in that yes, school was closed for the day. Again.
Before it sounds like I’m a parent who doesn’t enjoy being with my kids, these school closings aren’t just about the kids not being in school. We’ve had delayed, rescheduled, and delayed again IEP meetings. When Howie and Lewis aren’t in school, they are missing those services that we’ve so carefully crafted and fought for in those IEPs. If my kid happens to have lunch bunch or his social skills group on a Monday, he’s missed it four times. Their curriculum and routine is broken. Lesson plans are thrown out the window. Our home services have been cancelled. I rely on those plans to help my kids navigate their world and help me at home to work with my kids.
Is this life and death? Not for us specifically but for so many it could be. The worry and fear is real. Tim spent seven hours clearing our roofs from snow to prevent a roof collapse. I have friends with buckets in their kitchens, bathrooms, and playrooms as ice dams have created leaks all through their house. At night, the house “pops” from frost quakes. There are power outages and dangerous driving conditions. My tiny small nonprofit business has had to close five times because of the weather. We are dependent on that revenue from families visiting our sensory gym to stay open.
I haven’t slept through the night since the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Between the wind and the noises inside and outside the house and the “how am I going to make it through another snow day” anxiety inside my brain, there’s little calm to be had in my head. This is the first year I have actively researched schools and programs and real estate in Arizona.
Yesterday, a friend texted me after we had lunch together. “You seemed glum today, winter got you down?”
I responded with “Just tired. February has worn me out.”
People say to me you’re from Vermont, this should be normal for you. And it’s true that the cold and the snow is what winter is here.
But this isn’t “normal”. It’s not called a historic winter for no reason. And I am done.
As I write this, it’s snowing again. Lightly. But it’s snowing.
I know spring will come and there will be much joy in Mudville when the snow melts. But it will take a long time for us to recover – both outside our house and in our heads.
“Seasons change with the scenery;
Weaving time in a tapestry.
Won’t you stop and remember me
At any convenient time?
Funny how my memory skips
Looking over manuscripts
Of unpublished rhyme.
Drinking my vodka and lime,
I look around,
Leaves are brown,
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter.” – Hazy Shade of Winter by Paul Simon