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Greek-American Stories: Winter’s Adventures

The weather outside is frightful, and the fire is so delightful … Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow – so goes the song. Well, the snow is falling softly outside my large picture window, and I watch winter’s stillness paint my yard a bright white. The temperature has dropped to freezing and the weatherman predicts record inches overnight. The ceramic pots that held Geraniums and Aster are buried under the thick carpet of snow. Before now, I watched the chipmunks and squirrels scramble for food to store away before the arrival of these snow days. They have no calendars yet they sense more than we realize. I only feel sorry for the forest animals like foxes, deer, and stray cats that can only hover in some form of shelter and wait, insecure and hungry. I wonder if there are people like me who await the snow with such a mixture of sadness and excitement.

I imagine that most people are dreaming of green grass, sunshine, and work in the garden. I embrace this peaceful, tranquil solitude. This white silence will end soon; the only downside to these snow days is the early dark and the slush, icy roads.

I remember sledding with my brother and meeting other kids in Inwood Hill Park in upper Manhattan, armed with sleds and discs that were good, too. School was closed. We’d slide down the slopes repeatedly; we’d laugh and race one another as if a prize was waiting for us if we won. We stayed until our fingers were frozen and our feet felt the iciness despite the boots and gloves. My cheeks were rosy red as were my brother’s. Some kids built forts and made snowballs preparing for a war, one team from Sherman Avenue against the kids from Academy Street. Laughter and screams went up until a truce was negotiated. I wonder if kids go sledding now. Or, are they all holding those phones and fingering pictures and information on them. Even before the snow I don’t see kids playing tag or ‘kick the can’ or hide and seek or jumping rope anymore. Huh! Technology has corralled everyone, I guess. Well, I come back from the memories of my youth and am grateful for them. At least, my kids enjoyed times like that. The snow is still falling and I will make lunch for husband and myself, take my cup of tea to the picture window and watch the trucks trundle down the street in their attempts to clear the roads while blocking up my driveway in the process, which means I have to take out my shovel now and start tossing aside all that white stuff. But, hey! There are a couple of young men approaching, armed with shovels. In their broken English they offer to do the work for a price. “How much?” ask I, welding my shovel and trying to look as if it was doing something I enjoy doing. “Sixty dollars,” says the young, dark eyed, handsome Latin, looking hopeful. I look surprised! “SIXTY DOLLARS?” He studies my shocked expression. “Senior! Mucho pesos!” Hoping he’d agree, he says, blinking. “Fifty?”  “Ok,” I say, looking as if he’d just spoiled all my fun.

But, these 18 inches of snow is nothing compared to another time. There was the greater blizzard of 1888, (no, I don’t remember it!)  lasting from March 11 to 14, reaching from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine, where 45 miles an hour winds piled 50 feet of snow drifts onto roads. Twenty to fifty-eight inches fell in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. In Brooklyn, three storey houses were completely buried for a week. Altogether, 200 people died in New York and 200 elsewhere. The East River was frozen solid while 15,000 people were stranded in the elevated trains. The Stock Market was closed for two days. The fire departments were completely immobilized. So, you see? This isn’t so bad.

Well, the job was done for fifty dollars. Feeling like an auctioneer who’d just got the better of the deal I went Inside, and hot tea in hand, I sit at the window again and look outside. Guess what! It’s snowing again. The radio says another ten inches expected tomorrow. Guess I didn’t win the financial battle after all. Another 50 pesos!

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