Apparently I started snarking about snow just in time. The weather service has issued a blizzard warning for Friday and Saturday. Skipping over the part where New England seems to think that 24" of snow will bring civilization to its knees -- two feet of snow was considered to be an illegitimate weenie excuse for missing class in Flagstaff -- I'm actually kind of excited. I have quite a nice view of one of the infamous seven hills of Somerville from the living room window, and I'd like to see it properly blanketed.

One of the non-traumatic memories I have of family holidays was many, many years ago, when my parents had an HO-gauge train set running around the base of the Christmas tree. It eventually crumbled, on account of two small children, a large dog, a small dog, probably a good dozen cats, and the desert climate making all the adhesive disintegrate, but I used to spend endless hours lying on the floor, examining all of the tiny workings. At the time, I thought they had built it to look like the sets from old movies, the quintessential Hollywood idea of an idyllic town somewhere that might actually get a white Christmas. It certainly looked nothing like where I lived -- Phoenix and its environs are very planned, and there aren't any row houses or re-purposed brownstones, and anything that actually exhibits weather damage or rust has been abandoned for a very long time. It wasn't until I flew out to visit friends in Albany, NY, as an adult that I realized they were actually rebuilding what passes for suburbs out here in New England. Snow makes Cambridge weirdly nostalgic for me, considering I didn't grow up here.

I'm unlikely to see the snow drifts butt right up against the windows like I used to in Flagstaff. (If you've never seen that happen, it's pretty cool, in more ways than one. You're prevented from doing anything so stupid as trying to open the thing by the window freezing shut from the inside. The heat gradient is fascinatingly drastic, going from about 30°F right by the glass, to whatever temperature the rest of the house is less than a foot away.) Considering I'm on the second floor here, that's probably for the best. Being able to make a giant snow Godzilla to menace any trains still running on the overpass would not make up for being declared a disaster zone again.

One thing I'm not going to pick on the Bostonians about is the warning on whiteout conditions. I've been caught in them while walking, and it is genuinely kind of panic-making. Luckily, the City of Flagstaff closed the roads when that happened, and refused to send out even the snow plows until it cleared, so even if I wound up shuffling down the middle of the street I was all right, but it's still not anything I'd categorize as enjoyable. In the mountains, that goes along with several feet of fresh blowing powder, so fuck me if I could ever tell where the curbs were -- it was a regular thing to suddenly step down from knee-high snow into thigh-high snow where the sidewalk abruptly stopped. It's even fairly boring to watch from the window once you manage to get inside. The main bright spot was that if it was still in the process of dumping snow, there was no time for anything to melt and resurrect as fucking giant sheets of neck-breaking Teflon ice, always a hazard when storms were separated by a day or two of sun.

Comments