Phantom Storm

February 23 and 24 2010, 24 inches of snow in one storm!

It is Wednesday, February 6, 2013. Outside it is cloudy and cold. Light snow softly falls through the crisp air. The light breeze makes it wander about like a young puppy looking for fun. For the past week I have been chasing, considering, fathoming a phantom snow storm. Only one model realized its potential almost a week ago (European model) and now the storm is two days away and is about to turn from fantasy to reality. Perhaps a snow storm of different proportions.

I am 61 years old. In my heart and soul I feel the joy of a child. It is almost as if it were going to be Christmas tomorrow and Santa Claus was going to visit. My glee is slightly dampened by the joints I know will ache but I quickly put that aside and focus on what is important.

I will put the snow plow on my truck tomorrow. Mounting it during a storm is never a good idea. Not that I haven’t done it before. The plow typically goes on easily unless there is ice in the iron channels that guide the plow arms into the frame. Once the plow is mounted I will bring in my snowshoes to melt the ice off of the cleats. There is nothing finer than a romp in deep, fresh snows with a pair of snow shoes strapped to your feet. I think I’ll also be wise and stretch out my back tomorrow. We have a lot of paths, walkways, and decks that have to be shoveled around the homestead. A stretched back is a little more resilient. And with heavy snows expected, I’d better make sure our generator is ready to go. We oftern lose power in heavy snow conditions.

I will do all this with an air of seriousness but also with a great deal of happiness in my heart. Weathering a storm, no matter how significant or insignificant, is good for the soul. It reminds you that you are alive. It restores confidence that you are competent and a survivor. It helps you to breath fresh, cold air into lungs that need invigorating. And it makes most of me feel young again despite the arthritis in my back, shoulders, and right knee. I love that it can make me forget that I do not want to remember!

2/24/10 Maureen and Cooper navigate the paths we have shoveled.

The snow will be its heaviest during the night. If the snow is heavy I will plow the essential areas throughout the darkest hours. I have a small truck that can only handle moderate loads. A sacrifice that we made to reduce our carbon footprint. I like plowing at night. The headlights burning through the snow filled night air keeps me on my toes. I listen to rock and roll on the radio or play a favorite CD. I keep the drivers side window down and let the snow blow in my face. Backing up our steep hill can be a problem at night so I have to be really careful using the rear view mirrors.

When you are plowing at night it is just you, the truck, and the storm. There is a certain feeling that I get when I face a storm. I can feel the adrenaline. I exude confidence that I am competent and can master the situation. I am not out to conquer the storm, but rather to bend it in my favor. We all need to understand that the best we can do during the fury that Mother Earth can throw our way is to shape it to meet our needs in a gentle manner. That is if we are lucky enough to stay in control.

Sometimes Cooper will ride along and supervise me. His long droopy bloodhound ears swing to and fro as he tries to see where we are going. If he turns his head too fast long lines of sloppy drool get thrown onto the inside of the windshield. Still, its worth it, you should see him smiling the whole time he rides beside me pushing snow with the truck and plow.

Adia, our female bloodhound, is too nervous in a truck plowing snow. When I have tried to share the cab of the truck with her during plowing expeditions she pants incessantly and drool falls from her mouth like a waterfall. I’d need to line the cab of the truck with a giant sponge to catch it all. She’s more comfortable running around in a storm than she is riding along while I’m plowing. She has always been one to be out in nature rather than observing it.

The Halloween snow storm of 2011, 28 inches of snow in October!

The Weather Channel has dubbed the impending storm with the name Nemo. How appropriate. Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne piloted the Nautilus a fictional submarine that explored the bottom of ocean in the late 19th century. Nemo was a genius who was racked with guilt from losing a submarine crew and whose ego and intensity drove him to the point of madness. How apt a name for this dangersous storm.

So, here I am. A storm that hasn’t even happened yet has stuck in my craw. Some say we will measure the snow in feet. I am dizzy with excitement. I am beside myself with joy. And even before it happens it is very real.

This phantom storm. I am waiting. We will face off the day after tomorrow.

I am hoping for a draw.

Stark and cold, winter has a certain beauty!

Written for in February 2012.

  • Emily B

    What a big smile this brought to my face. Enjoy that snowstorm, Bill! We’re supposed to get a good heap ourselves on Sunday and Monday, and I’m sure I’ll spend long moments not behind a plow, but at the window, a new babe in my arms, introducing him or her to the white wonder of the world. :)

  • Wild_Bill

    Am I reading this correctly? Did you have your baby? If so, OMG, congratulations! I am inexplicably excited for you! And yes, please do introduce her to Mother Winter. In this day of modern conveniences cold weather friends are few and far between.

  • Teresa Evangeline

    I have goosebumps and not due to the snow. I love this story of how you deal with storms or even the notion of one. What a beautiful way to face life! I had such a distinct image of you in the truck at night, listening to music – what a glorious image! And Maureen in her blue coat is so striking! Love the last image, just Love it. Take care, stay safe and keep us posted.

  • Wild_Bill

    Living in Minnesota would give even the hardiest soul goosebumps. I’m glad you came along for the ride. This one will be a challenge, I may have to alter my plans. Looks even more dangerous than originally reported. I’ll be plowing listening to “sympathy for the devil” by the stones, and “wild horses”. I’m trying to think of some more mood music for while I’m plowing. Got any suggestions? Anyways as I always say ” What could be better?”

  • Montucky

    I know exactly how you feel and you can’t imagine how much I envy you that approaching storm!

  • Teresa Evangeline

    I always like to think of the most incongruous music and it always makes for an interesting time… so, maybe Tammy Wynette’s greatest hits… :) Have fun!

  • Wild_Bill

    It has started already. The snow plow is on the truck. Expecting winds up to 60 mph. Could be without grid electricity for an extended period. We have a generator that powers the house if this happens. Next stop is to buy some gas for it. Plowing all night isn’t really that much fun unless you get the right attitude. Music and company from Cooper will help. Latest reports is 18 to 24 inches, less than the 30 in. expected (with 80 mph winds) just west of Boston.

  • Wendy

    Bill, I share your love for and excitement about a big storm. And I admire your experience in knowing how to prepare yourself. Be safe, the winds sound like they will make it fierce and dangerous. We’ll be watching from the dry midwest.

  • Wild_Bill

    The worse part of the storm will occur over night. Not the best time for plowing our steep hill but it has to be done periodically in large storms so as to avert moving a ton of snow all at once. It will be interesting to see how much of this is media hype. Just looked at the actual storm and it has a very tight pressure gradient and an actual eye. Could be the perfect storm. The question is how much wrath will it inflict on New England and the maritimes in Canada. We are as prepared as we can be. Now we’ll relax for a while before the storm arrives in earnest. Once that happens se’ll do our best. Could be interesting! They keep saying it’ll be a historic event like we’re going to be celebrating this date for years to come. Kind of creepy, thinking that is not a good thing.

    You have your own share of bad storms in the midwest, its just our turn now.

  • Wild_Bill

    It was a terrific storm! Strong winds, lots and lots of snow. I plowed until 1:30 AM when the visibility went to zero. Got up the next day and started all over again. The drifting is tremendous with some snow waves over four feet. You gotta love winter!

  • Guy

    Hi Bill

    Hopefully you came thru okay and got to enjoy the storm. It is quite mild here at present.


  • Wild_Bill

    A good reminder of why I like “real” winter so much. Went out on snow shoes today with Adia, my female hound, and it was so quiet and beautiful. What could be better?!

  • Barbara

    Well Bill, you all got a whack more snow than we did, I was content with it over my knees and hard to walk around in. Love your lead-up to it, glad you had fun ploughing with Cooper and that you got to snow shoe with Adia – Now why I wonder, did I forget to put on my snow shoes? It would have made it much easier. The boyz love the snow, plunging in it rolling in it, rubbing their faces in it and then flopping over onto side and then back to luxuriate in its wonder. Even my oldest son, well along in “middle age” jumped and danced in the snow in Toronto. When people looked at him as if he were crazy, he just grinned and told them it’s Canada, it’s winter, this is what winter is supposed to be like. A coffee vendor agreed, saying you’re the only Canadian here… that story of my son’s made me laugh – specially to hear the excitement in his voice – similar to what I hear in your words… funny his name is Bill too! Take care… we’re expecting rain tonight and tomorrow… but then snow in two days. What a wacky winter.

  • Wild_Bill

    Yo yo winter here as well. I’ll take any winter I can get. Wintry mix tomorrow, and next weekend perhaps another wallop, we’ll see!

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