Intermission: A Black African’s View on New England Winter

When the snow ain't pretty (no more) ....
When the snow ain’t pretty (no more) ….

One day last November, I went into the gym at 4.30pm, when it was reasonably light outside, and came out at 5.30pm to find it pitch black. My thoughts: “eish, mara – what am I doing in this misery?!”

I got into the car … On NPR, Melissa Block was talking to Ms. Hazard (I think that’s her real name, actually!) about how her “French doors actually were blown in by the pressure of the snow” and she and her family had had to put up their six-foot table and treadmill to try and hold the doors up. With a little bit of a giggle (I presumed, at the minor discomfort of recognising how ludicrous the situation was), she said that the firefighters had walked for blocks in six feet of snow to reach them at their home – it took them four hours! Ms. Block then asked Ms. Hazard if, having lived (by choice) where she does for years, now, she has resolved or resigned herself to the thought that, “oh, well, this is what it’s like here!”. Ms. Hazard responded that it’s usually not this bad.

I’m not sure how bad is bad enough to say, “MOVE, for crying out loud!!!” (After all, it’s not like Canada or Norway or Iceland have been vacated, is it?!) And, while I can’t claim to have lived in Buffalo ever or here in New Hampshire for more than two years, I do know that in the seven years since I first visited, it has seen pretty severe weather as a matter of course (even if, by NH standards, a blizzard or two in a winter “ain’t that bad!”).

For instance, during my first winter visit to NH, they had an ice storm that cut out power for most of the state. I remember listening to NPR and hearing that the Salvation Army had run out of room to accommodate people who had had to flee their electricity-less homes for fear of dying of frostbite or hypothermia. My mother-in-law’s home only got its power back 10 days later, literally the day before Christmas. When we were driving to her house on Christmas eve, we had to navigate dead, fallen trees and utility poles on the roads, and make sure not to run the power company employees over who were working through the night to restore people’s power in time for Christmas Day. Even so, as you might imagine, we had few streetlights to guide us.

That same Christmas, Dan drove me from New York City to NH through a blizzard (the first I ever bore witness to). A trip that should have ordinarily taken four and half hours took nine! It took us 2 and a half hours just to get out of NYC. He invited me to sleep in the passenger seat but with two-wheel-drive cars skidding in front of us, the three- and four-lane highway reduced to a single lane and car carcasses caught to the left (in the middle barrier) and right (in the snowbanks and woods) of us, you couldn’t pay me enough money to shut my eyes! And that was just my first winter here!

But the psychological trick I’ve noticed that people here play on themselves – and keep trying to play on me too – is to tell themselves, “it’s not usually this bad!”

Yeah, right!!! *wink, wink*

I really hate to make even the slightest bit of light about a tragedy but, I have a hypothesis for Ms. Hazard (gosh, how apt is her name?!). Yes, it’s climate change that has caused the severity of the blizzard in Buffalo this time round (and, I know that’s very serious in and of itself). We really must do something to correct our conduct to slow down climate change!

But, that’s just one level of explanation.

Don’t forget the saying, “God first speaks to us in a whisper … and, when we don’t listen we leave Him no choice but to whisper LOUDLY” (or something like that!). Well, I keep telling my beloved husband that this place just ain’t fit for human inhabitants. If last winter’s Polar Vortex wasn’t enough, I think I finally have compelling and irrefutable evidence that God agrees!

Storm after storm after storm, people insist on hanging on tight. Well, God’s speaking real loud now!

And, though Dan may not be able to bring himself to admit it out loud, I have the internal satisfaction of knowing that – after Juno, the record-breaking winter we’ve had and all the snow-shoveling he’s had to do these last two months – my dear husband agrees :)

Man and machine against the elements.
Man and machine against the elements.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Peter Wells says:

    Dear Sindiso,
    From time to time I put a semi-serious post on my Facebook page. This was yesterday’s.
    WEATHER REPORT
    Well, I’ve checked all my sources, including the Hillbillyweatherman, and it looks real bad for us, namely, the forecast is for Category 5 New England Weather. So, if by chance you get a warm day, it’s probably just a topographical error.
    Thousands of New Hampshirites are headed south, and there is some danger that Florida will sink below sea level before its time.
    We’ve got up to two feet on the ground still, snow, that is. Planting this year’s peas on the snow just won’t do. This is so bad, I’m told, even the peas in the case at the supermarket are frozen.
    So, it looks like, as so often happens here, we’ll be having Winter until June 14th, then Spring for a week, and finally relief as a three-month long Heat Wave settles in. Then all those folks, who fled New Hampshire, can come back. ;-)

  2. SMW says:

    Thanks for sharing, Peter. That’s very funny! So glad I have company and that you’re tellin’ it like it is … unlike some foiks I know who are in denial :) Gotta say, though, I’ll be very happy to receive a three month heat wave. The most I’ve ever seen here is 2 months but maybe we’ll have more record-breakin’ this year! ;)

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