Dear readers, you’re about to be treated to another entry about the weather here in Boston. We’ve got our fourth consecutive weekly Big Snowstorm, two of them blizzards. Winter Storm Neptune (snowstorm 4/blizzard 2 if you’re counting) has been unfolding before our very eyes this weekend.
I wish I could claim that I’ve turned the snowbound days into productive work activity, but it’s only partially true. The weather geek in me keeps an eye on the TV weather coverage, even if it’s becoming repetitive. Snow here, snow there, snow everywhere — and plenty of wind gusts, too. This is, after all, a weather pattern of historic proportions, and we’ll be talking about it for years. Hey, this ain’t nothin’ compared to the big ones back in ’15……
The local transit authority announced that the subway, buses, and commuter rail will be operating on, to put it gently, adjusted schedules on Monday, after being shut down completely today. My university decided to hold classes, which means that a lot of students, faculty, and staff will be having somewhat adventurous sojourns into downtown Boston. I’ll be among them!
I’ll also have a little soreness in this middle aged body tomorrow, thanks to my largely futile efforts at snow shoveling today. Fortunately, I was able to hire a couple of guys who were earning extra cash with a snowblower and a snowplow truck. They did in a few minutes what would’ve taken me…never mind…I wouldn’t have finished. That said, even the snowblower had trouble pushing through mounds of snow where the sidewalk was supposed to be.
I did manage to watch some TV, including the latest episode of The Americans, one of the best one hour dramas around right now. I also watched an ESPN streamed college basketball game featuring my undergraduate alma mater, Valparaiso University, overcoming a half-time deficit to beat Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the latest win in a surprisingly strong season. VU’s basketball team wasn’t much to speak of while I was a student. But its fortunes have improved considerably since then, to the point where VU now ranks among the better mid-major Division I hoops programs.
As I finish off this blog post, I’m missing a 40th anniversary special for Saturday Night Live. It realize that it’s an iconic Generation Jones television show, premiering in 1975. SNL has had its moments — for me “Da Bears” skits and Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin impersonations are brilliant — but overall I find its humor misses as often as it hits. Maybe I’ll catch it another time, perhaps during a future snowstorm.
Even my dearest friends who read this blog are probably tiring of this, but I must write again of the weather! Here in Boston, we’re getting pounded with another 20 inches or so of snow, our third major storm over the past 15 or so days. The city is once again in shutdown mode, and the white stuff keeps piling up.
This is the third Monday in a row that my classes have been cancelled, and for me the novelty of snow days may be forever gone, er, at least for a while. Anyway, I decided that this would be a good day to go to my office and get some work done. Encouraged by online postings that my subway line was experiencing only “moderate delays,” I bundled up and trudged over to the subway, a/k/a the “T” (shorthand for Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority).
You see the electronic sign in the photo above? I’ve noticed something about it, in any kind of weather. When it ticks down to 3 minutes, time according to the T stops in its, uh, tracks. It may stay at 3 minutes for a couple of minutes, maybe 5 minutes, maybe a bit longer. This time, however, it stayed at 3 minutes for over 20 minutes, with no public address announcement informing us of extended delays. I got the message and decided that riding the T today was not a prudent option.
I’ve spent most of my life in parts of the country where snowfall is par for the course, but I cannot recall being hit in three successive weeks with storms that, standing alone, would be regarded as the signature event of a more normal winter. This has been a remarkable stretch of weather, and I’m sure we’ll be sharing stories of the winter of 2015 for many years to come.
Well folks, we’ve set a local record for the most snowfall in a week, with over 35 inches here in Boston. Last week’s blizzard was topped off by another very heavy snowstorm that tapered off on Monday night. The mega-mound pictured above is a typical sight right now all over the city. Everyone has run out of places to put the stuff, so building up is the only viable alternative.
I don’t own a car, but I’m told that the roads are a mess, despite valiant efforts to keep them plowed. My travel lifeline, the subway, is in a constant state of delay, with the area transit system’s dysfunction and aging rolling stock conspiring against us. This means long waits on the subway platforms, some of which are open air, only to find trains packed with passengers when they do arrive.
Though like most any teacher or student, I enjoy the occasional snow day, this is getting out of hand. At my university, our “spring” term started on January 20, but one of my classes has met only once because of numerous class cancellations. I’ll have to schedule a couple of marathon make-up sessions, which is not ideal but the only realistic alternative when you’ve got a mix of full-time and part-time students with myriad work schedules and other obligations.
In any event, it appears that people are dealing with the weather as well as can be expected, and sometimes with good cheer. The New England Patriots’ remarkable Super Bowl victory on Sunday has helped to lift spirits above the snowdrifts. (Full disclosure: I’m a diehard Chicago Bears fan, but I enjoy rooting for the Pats as well.) And as someone who grew up in Northwest Indiana, this has been an occasion to wax nostalgic with friends from the Midwest over blizzards and snowstorms of the past.
We’re looking at a bit more snow later this week, so it appears that these mounds are going to be with us for a while.
We’re in the midst of a major blizzard here in New England, and the Greater Boston area is getting plenty of its share right now. I thought I’d share a few views from the area surrounding my home in the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.
The snow and wind started to pick up substantially after midnight. As you can see below, I got into the spirit of things, venturing out to survey the scene and take a picture or two. I also exchanged a hello with a guy driving one of the snowplows. If my neighborhood is any indication, the City of Boston has done a very good job plowing the streets.
I woke up this morning to news that the snow and wind will continue through much of the day, as expected. The snow certainly piled up during the time I was asleep.
Most of the city will be shut down today. The subway is closed. Most of us will be waiting out the rest of this storm, wondering if things will be cleared up enough to have a semblance of a normal day tomorrow. My university closed as of 4 p.m. yesterday, and while “snow days” are fun, we’ll probably have to make up missed classes later in the semester.
Among the things I don’t understand: Why is there a run on bread, eggs, and milk when a blizzard beckons? OK, bread I can understand — you can eat it even if the power goes out. But eggs are pretty useless if you can’t cook them, and milk is, well, what makes it so much more important during a blizzard? Anyway, my favorite neighborhood store, the City Feed & Supply, will be open for business soon, and I’ll be there.
Tonight I took a short break to watch an old favorite, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, one of the classic Peanuts TV specials. It’s funny, sweet, innocent, and clever. As a kid, I so wanted the Great Pumpkin to make an appearance! Nowadays, I especially enjoy Snoopy’s adventure as a First World War flying ace.
This particular appearance of the Peanuts gang means that we’re into the heart of October, and Halloween beckons. Ghosts and goblins are also part of the story. To get the supernatural atmosphere right, it helps to be in a part of the country that experiences genuine changes of seasons, and New England certainly fits the bill. Although today happened to be a tad on the warm side, we’ve already had several days of fall chill.
To help capture the season, I’ve included this photo of Joseph A. Citro’s Weird New England (2005). You see, in New England, that Halloween feeling is about more than simply the weather. This is an old part of the country, and old stuff tends to bring a lot of haunted spirits, or so they say. (By contrast, while I’m sure they have ghosts in Los Angeles, it’s just not the same.)
Halloween still has the power to bring out the little kid in all of us, so here’s to ghosts, Peanuts specials, and maybe a candy bar or two to top them off.
Especially after I whined about the brutal winter we experienced here in Boston, it may seem odd that the summer months fill me with anticipation for the start of fall football season. But I can’t help it — I’ve been a football fan since junior high school — so around this time of the year I start checking the magazine stands for the usual rush of pre-season pro and college football previews.
I’m more into the pro game than the college game, but I load up on pre-season mags for both, as well as a fantasy football guide or two.
On the pro side, I’ve been devoted to the Chicago Bears since I started to follow the game, over a decade before the awesome, wondrous 1985 championship season. When a Bears game is televised here in Boston, I make every effort to watch it. I still get psyched when they win, and I get a tad down when they lose. Since moving to Boston in 1994, I’ve also become a fair weather New England Patriots fan. It’s easy to root for the Pats when they are Super Bowl contenders practically every season! I don’t know what I’ll do when coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady call it quits, however.
On the college side, it’s Notre Dame for me. Growing up in NW Indiana, I couldn’t help but gain an affinity. Although I’m neither Catholic nor a Notre Dame alum, I’m drawn into the whole Notre Dame football mystique. I also root for the University of Hawaii and Navy, even though I have no official connections to either of those schools! Fandom is not logical.
Personally, I’ve never attended a big name football school. Valparaiso University, my undergraduate alma mater, is known more for its successful mid-major basketball program than for its football team. New York University, my law school alma mater, hasn’t played the game in decades, although early in the last century NYU had a significant football program.
On the fantasy football side, my Jamaica Plain Storm won its league in 2012 and generally has been pretty competitive. I pay moderately serious attention to my fake football team. Such are the priorities of willfully prolonged adolescence.
I’ve spent my whole life in places where the seasons change: Northwest Indiana, New York City, and now Boston. Of course I complain about the extremes of hot and cold weather, but if I’m being honest with myself, I admit to liking the change of seasons.
Spring is my favorite, but it never lasts long enough anywhere I’ve lived. Fall, however, has staying power, and for some reason it’s the season that most pushes my favorite childhood nostalgia buttons.
I think it has a lot to do with memories of going back to school as a grade schooler. My brother Jeff and I were fortunate to go to a good little neighborhood public grade school in Hammond, Indiana, staffed largely by old-fashioned teachers who really cared about the kids and drilled us on the basics. I don’t have to engage in a lot of revisionist history to say that it created some good memories.
Those memories connect to holidays and historical dates associated with the fall: Columbus Day, Halloween, and finally Thanksgiving, the bridge to winter. Of course, Columbus Day and Thanksgiving were drenched in the feel-good historical fictions contained in our easy reading history books. Halloween was a calorically magical and innocent observance, replete with neighborhood trick-or-treating where the only fears about knocking on strangers’ doors were over ghosts and goblins. And some of us imagined ourselves waiting with Linus for the Great Pumpkin to appear:
Fall is a wonderful time of year in Boston. The weather is cool and comfortable, and the leaves turn colors in spectacular ways. The many historical sites from the American Revolution remind me of my childhood introduction to history, which quickly became one of my favorite subjects and remains so to this day. And not too far away is Salem, home to the real-life witch trials and some modern day tourist traps!
Today, of course, the seasons also correlate with what I do for a living. We have a fall semester and a spring semester, and I still use a personal, academic year calendar book where I write in my class schedule and various meetings by hand. Classes started this past week, and the weather has hit a classic fall-type cool patch. It’s a comforting combination for me.