Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Inside the Snow Globe

We're far enough away from When Nemo met Charlottte, the meteorological equivalent of that Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal movie, to remember the unrelenting white and the swirling winds while not remembering (so much)  the bone-chilling cold from hours of struggling to remove over two feet of snow. Just in case we forgot where The Rose of New England was located, we received a timely reminder.

I'd imagine, based on years of hiking around the city during the spring and summer and listening to local people lament the lowered levels on creeks and streams feeding our three rivers and having walked last spring along bed of the Yantic River that should have been under six feet of water, this spring we are probably going to be just fine in terms of that annual rainfall statistic we read about in the news papers during the dry days of the late summer.

For those planning this year's Greeneville Cleanup, whenever that may be, that's really good news as it was disquieting last year to see so little Shetucket River coming over the dam (especially in comparison to how much was flowing there three weeks ago).

But I've wandered away from my starting point. For me the teachable moment of last weekend's storm was how well we came together and worked with one another to free cars from snow drifts, to help people get their French Toast supplies (bread, milk and eggs) to their cars, and to hold doors for those hurrying home with armfuls of everything from toilet paper to emergency generators. I helped as many neighbors who are Republicans and I did Democrats-not that anyone cared, at least not last weekend.

The snow itself fell so quickly, abundantly and for such a prolonged period of time that when it finally stopped mid-day on Saturday it was as if geography across the city had been reinvented. How many of us started out with shovel or snow thrower to clear sidewalks in front of our house and reclaim the driveways to  our garages only to discover we were standing on our own lawns or on the sidings near  the driveways, quite a distance from our original intent.      

I walked the Heritage Trail, not one of my brightest decisions as the snow was piled high but it was like seeing the Harbor again, but for the first time. The fallen snow and the cold temperatures in the water made  the meeting of the fresh water from upstream in the Yantic with the salty Sound water brought inland by the Thames more distinct and I dare say dramatic. Looking out across the Marina and Howard T. Brown Park from the top of the parking garage a block behind the courthouse was a revelation in white.

And walking through the intersection of Union where the Wauregan Hotel  looks across the street to the Shannon Building and the bare branches of the trees in front of the courthouse were adorned in ice and snow, I was struck with how much beauty I pass everyday though a downtown so many of us dismiss as a relic of another era and whose solutions seem to include giving up and going home.

Except, as I finally and fully grasped last Saturday, I can't do that because I am home. This is where my children went to school, where my wife and I built a home and a life. I have accepted that I cannot save the whole world, but, with some work, I can save the piece I'm standing on, even if it's covered in snow and right next to the piece you're standing on..

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