Sunday, February 28, 2010

Friend or Snow....

Snow days always seemed magical when I was a kid. They were something akin to Christmas---the adrenaline of anticipation---waiting for the radio announcer to reach my school's position on that alphabetized list. Were we all there once- at least once?
Well, at least us upstate NYers can attest to that.

Last Friday was a snow day for my school...and I enjoyed every minute of it. Lately, I've been skimping on the time to just breathe out a little. This three day weekend was a delightful way to push me out of that frenzied mode.

What it also gave me was a chance to slow down and just appreciate my neighbors. Glancing at any given street on any given winter day, my city can at times appear to be a deadzone. The bitter cold forces most of us to spend our waking hours completing this cyclical pattern-- darting in and to building...building to car...with little time idling or lingering.
A snowstorm, on the other hand, is game changing. The very effort necessary for clearing out cars buried under mounds of snow takes time---and forces us to interact differently with strangers.

Nothing slows one down from the rush-rush and the dash-in and out cycle like two feet of snow, let me tell you. A magic happens for all this inconvenience, or at least that's how I saw it this weekend. I saw people again. Everywhere on my street. Families in the neighborhood were shoveling together...I heard the echoes of laughter, even felt the spinning air of a snowball rush past me.
"Sorry," called the voice, realizing my proximity to their actual intended target.

Despite some haphazard melodrama, in a way this weekend's storm, ironically almost, brought my little corner of the universe back to life again. Or maybe it was just my awakened perception.

To me it's that extra little cooperative spirit that it brought back into the mix. Goodwill and acts of charity are a healthy side effect of living in a snow pummeled city neighborhood whose survival is dependent upon on-street parking. Cooperation is essential. Take for example the neighbor and his son who helped me shovel out my little blue Hyndaui that had been reburied by a snow plow. After observing me uselessly and repetively reverse, charge forward and repeat the process. They could have turned their backs and pretended not to see. They instead nodded at each other and prepared to cross the street, shovels in hand. I smiled and was readily thanking them even before they crossed over.

"I'm Leah...and I am stuck," I said, laughing through an introduction.
"I'm Al...and this is my son Jamani," Al said shaking my hand firmly.

They sized up the problem...then dug with me. It was a few minutes of strategizing...and then some elbow grease with our shovels. I'm happy though to say Smurfette (that's my car) rolled out of that little white pit quite nicely with the help of these angels in disguise.

And now I'll have a new set of neighbors to wave to as I pass by on walks.

I bemoan snow...I sometimes grumble all too often.
Life is just have to appreciate the unexpected bonuses of even the most frustrating inconveniences.

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