Pages from a winter diary:
Dec. 8: Snow!
Is there any more joyful sight than big flakes falling from the sky in the weeks before Christmas? Walking the dog is like stepping into a Currier & Ives lithograph, with carriage horses trotting through the white streets and shaking their bells.
No horses and carriages here, of course, but everything is powdered with flawless crystals, and when the bells on the Emmaus Moravian Church start chiming hymns, tears come to my eyes. Home and hearth await. It's going to be a wonderful yuletide, with a cup of cheer and my hound at my feet.
Dec. 10: Another seasonal shot of snow. How few years in my life have been blessed with a white Christmas? And now it has snowed twice, with 15 days to go.
I've been known to complain about starting the Christmas season too soon, but nature has set the timetable this year. We haven't even bought the tree yet! I think of Charlie Brown and Linus tramping through the snow to the tree lot and finding that poor little specimen with the falling needles. At the end, Linus wraps his beloved blanket around the base and … well, I choke up thinking about it.
The girls get to enjoy a snow day. We didn't get many of those back on Long Island.
Dec. 14: Whoa! We had more than 6 inches on top of what was already there. I don't mind shoveling, though. It's been pretty light and fluffy snow so far this season, and it's really a pretty good workout.
Some of the neighbors use snowblowers, but I hate the way the racket disturbs that special silence you have after a good snow, when the sounds of nature are muffled and soothing.
Dec. 17: Snow again? Hold on, there, Santa! We've had just enough! You don't want to have any trouble getting the old sleigh through!
Dec. 26: Christmas is over, but it looks like the weather service didn't get the message. More snow. A day late and a dollar short, if you ask me. If this had fallen on Christmas Day, it would have made my marathon viewing of "A Christmas Story" that much more special.
Jan. 3: The new year is coming in like the old one went out. We had 7 inches in the yard! I must confess, post-Christmas snow lacks the same magic. Not sure how many more days off the girls can afford. They'll be going to school in August at this rate.
The snow isn't the worst of it, though. The temperatures are downright savage.
Jan. 7: I took a drive around the area to do a column about this "polar vortex" that's all over the news. I met some nice people, but it was only 2 degrees. It made my lungs ache.
We've already surpassed last year's total snowfall. I don't remember a winter as consistently snowy and cold since 1993-94. That was my first year in Pennsylvania and I remember thinking what a terrible mistake I'd made to move here. It snowed more than 75 inches that year! But we hadn't had one so consistently harsh since.
Jan. 10: Another slippery rush hour. This traction control on my car is a complete fraud. You try to be careful and some meathead in a pickup is always riding your fender. WHY DON'T YOU DRIVE RIGHT OVER ME?
Jan. 18: Another inch of snow. Starting to forget what pavement and grass look like. Keep hearing how the ski resorts love it. Good for them. I've never been skiing and by God I never will. Imagine rolling around in this mess on purpose.
Jan. 20: Snow in the forecast. SNOW in the forecast. SNOW IN THE FORECAST.
Jan. 21: Had taken the day off and planned to spend it however I pleased. Reading. Listening to music. Watching television. Instead, the schools are closed again. Can't get anywhere. The children are "playing" somewhere in the house. Dear God, what was that crashing sound?
The wind shakes the windows. We are so isolated here. So cold. So very cold.
Jan. 25: They say the Donner Party would have been all right had they chosen one of the old routes to California, but they took a new, untested one.
Today brings another couple of inches. I am at the curb, shoveling, looking for places to put the new snow. There are no places. Out comes Snowblower Joe again. Carbon emissions are why we're having this ice age to begin with. Planet hater. COULDN'T YOU FIND SOMETHING LOUDER?
Jan. 27: Home with a stomach bug. It isn't so bad outside right now but the forecaster says another Arctic blast is coming. Blast. They always say blast. Blasted blasts.
A wind chill of minus 15 can freeze the water in the skin cells and cause frostbite in just a few minutes.
I tell this to the dog. He looks at me strangely.
It isn't even February yet, I say. He goes to sleep.
Jan. 28: All work and no play makes Danny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Danny a dull boy. All work and no play makes Danny a dull boy ...