Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snowmaggedon Strikes D.C. Metro

Apparently snow is Kryptonite to Superman. At least that’s what came to mind while watching my new neighbor wield a shovel in his too-tight Superman t-shirt. Seeing him helplessly hurl shovelfuls of snow into the wind nearly had me in tears. But after watching defeat set in on his sad face, I thought he might be the one to cry. Bewildered by the enormity of the task ahead, his laser vision fizzled and his angry glare was the only thing hot enough to possibly melt a snowflake or two.

Snowmaggedon? Snowpocalypse? Snowverkill? Possibly exaggerated, but it is true that we received two feet of heavy, wet snow in a storm big enough to silence the jets in the sky. It was by far the most snow I’ve ever experienced in a single event, and certainly the most I’ve ever shoveled. After digging out, I now know how John Henry must have felt when that shaft of sunlight pierced the hole left by the final swing of his mighty sledgehammer: relieved, proud, and triumphant.

I love a good snowstorm, especially a record breaking storm. Everyday life can be so regimented; every minute planned and scheduled. A snowstorm breaks up the monotony like a garden spade through ice. Sure there are highlights to illuminate each day, but the routine is a rut in which the wheels of novelty spin fruitlessly. Big weather events like blackouts (electrical not alcohol), 100-year floods, and blizzards shake things up, disrupting routines. People suddenly snap out of their malaise as if they have just been pelted in the face with a snowball. They’re forced to communicate with neighbors who’ve been hiding behind closed doors since Thanksgiving. People take up shovels and unite behind a common cause, lending a helping hand or sharing a laugh over a shovelful of snow. Heads nod and “mmm-hmmm’s” are heard as broad, pointless statements about the weather and the world are made. Snowstorms also remind us haughty humans that our place in the pecking order is much lower than we care to admit. Because whether it’s Mother Nature blanketing the land in misery, or someone close to us delivering an icy insult, sometimes it’s good to get knocked down a peg or two. Snowstorms, like all major natural disasters, put life back into perspective.

Buried beneath the snow with all the headlines about power outages, lost productivity, and bad drivers is the fact that my sister-an-law and her man have been stranded here since Sunday. Their bosses back home can’t complain about their absence when the snowstorm is the top story on the evening news each night. We don’t see them but a few times each year, so we’ve enjoyed their extended visit. Their nephews have loved the extra attention, and my future brother-in-law is a bulldozer with a shovel in his hand.

And now February Fury (to borrow The Weather Channel’s malevolent moniker) has arrived. In a matter of hours we’ll be pushing a fresh foot of snow to the muted sounds of winter. If the roads are impassable and cabin fever sets in, we’ll once again don the backpacks and trek to the bodega for a “bag of nice” – more beer. Half-Tail the backyard squirrel’s loyalty will once again be rewarded with scraps of wheat bread flung like Frisbees from my sliding glass doorway. I’ll be more than happy to help dig my Vietnamese neighbor out - so long as she brings her Toro snow blower and fresh pork spring rolls to the party again! And poor Superman is next door staring blankly out the window at the accumulating snow, quaking in his shiny red boots.

Check out a slideshow here:


  1. I'm just glad this giant global warming hoax can finally be put to bed. I'm stocking up on Hummers and Suburbans.

  2. Fantastic...funny, sweet, thoughtful and can always find the beer. :)
    I saw a video of the Dupont snowball fight. That is awesome...nice that people can slough off the blahs of winter and laugh at Mother Nature while dodging snowballs and remembering our childhood innocence.


  3. buncha jerks, stealing all our snow...

  4. Nice piece matt. Those pics are quite something!