Pedestrian braves the street, avoiding the un-shoveled sidewalk. Image credit:The Hook, photo by Hawes Spencer
Having grown up where snow up to the windows was normal, it is with amazement that I view my fellow Southeastern Pennsylvanians dealing with serious snow. Two honest-feet fell Friday night; and, another two feet are predicted starting tomorrow night. Pretty crazy. Unless you are a denialist or a meteorologist, looking out the window, you'd think the climate had changed!
Suppose 4 feet on the ground becomes a winter norm going forward. How will they adapt? The 1950's offer a model.First, a stage-setting chronology.
Tomorrow there will be a grocery shelf-clearing attack, fronted by shock troops of SUV-driving women. Though a majority of the vehicles hereabout are SUV's, because none have snow tires and/or tire chains it's safe to assume we'll be shut down though Friday morning. This leaves plenty of time for watching the weatherman's fear mongering ,...and for clearing snow.
Most of the snow clearing here is gasoline powered. A few rely on shoveling; but, mostly its plow's for hire and gasoline powered blowers. The elderly and single parents have a tough time coping.
I chatted this up with my neighbor, yesterday - both of us hating that our clothing smelled like exhaust from running behind 9HP blowers for 5 or 6 hours. (There's no way a hand shovel or an electric blower could do this job in a day.) What else can be done?
Back in the Pleistocene.
What happened before the pickup mounted plow and gasoline blower became commonplace? It was just accepted that work and school routines would be disrupted by snow storms; and getting out, if it was going to happen at all, meant walking. Neighbors helped each other.
There were far fewer restaurant meals taken back in the 50's; and fast food was not even an option. Ma had groceries in the refrigerator, possibly a chest freezer in the garage (which mean no big deal if there was a power outage in winter) and canned goods in the pantry. So we hung out.
By the end of February, everyone got sick of shoveling; and, if another blizzard came you were forgiven for letting the sidewalk go. Letting snow lie, at that point, was a sign of hope that Spring was just around the corner. I remember walking to school after a late winter blizzard, stepping in the footprints of someone who went before me, regretting the clumps of snow cascading into my boots, but not the path that lie ahead.
Back on the street in the lull before the blizzard, I see that the area's car dealers have hundreds of acres of snow-covered SUV's and "Crossovers," ( scaled-down SUV's bordering on stationwagon-ness).
Setting out to buy a set of proper but affordable winter boots,with rubber bottoms and leather tops, I found they don't exist here. Not even stocked. What the shoe and sporting good stores do have are $160 fluorocarbon-coated, petro-polymer uppers and lowers, and stiff as a board.
LL Bean where are you?