Winter weather

The current string of snowstorms we’re experiencing around Boston has reached historic proportions — I supposed it’s possible that people will compare future snowstorms to the weather of this month for years to come — but this isn’t the worst or most disruptive snowstorm I’ve lived through.  And it certainly isn’t the most magical.  That title seems secure.

Perhaps it was the same storm as the Blizzard of ’78.  It was around that time, but I don’t remember precisely.  In any case, if it was the same storm, I experienced it differently because at that time I lived far from Boston.  Instead of deep, drifting snow, the storm began with rapidly-falling, heavy snow, followed by a brief period of heavy rain, clearing skies, and then temperatures falling to well below freezing overnight.

The next morning, everything looked glazed, in the most literal sense.  All edges were smoothed by a coat of ice.  The glare of the sun was brilliant across the empty fields, their features smoothed away by a foot of snow and ice.

The coat of ice on top of the snow was strong enough that I could stand on it, and it was so slippery that it was challenging to keep my footing.  It was like walking on oiled glass.

Falling on the ice didn’t break the crust.  I tried breaking through the ice by stamping on it, but that didn’t break it either.  Similarly, the runners of our sled didn’t break through, which meant that the sled was unbelievably fast — and it was also very difficult to climb any hills to sled down, because it was so slippery.  I had to get down on all fours and climb the hills on my hands and knees, since the fabric of my pants and gloves provided more friction to the ice than my galoshes.  Hills that were scarcely taller than my own height would let the sled run for hundreds of yards.

I don’t know where the idea came from, but I’m going to claim it as my own.  It’s the kind of hair-brained, irresponsible thing that I would have done.  I looked at the rolling hills of the golf course behind our house, and I looked at the seemingly impenetrable crust of ice covering them, and I went and put on my ice skates and spent a magical day cross-country skating.


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