For years, when I would talk to people who weren’t from around here and who expressed shock or disgust at how much it tends to snow in Syracuse, I would reassure them that Central New York had the best snow removal infrastructure in the world. Heck, I would brag about it, even. World’s biggest airport runway snowplow, mountains of municipal salt, drivers who laughed in the face of death, etc.
This year, however, I’ve been finding myself less impressed with the snow removal performance. We’ve had more than one lake effect “event” that was predicted well in advance and yet the roads seem to be more neglected each time. It mystifies me why “they” seem to think that laying down lots of salt and not plowing makes road conditions better. It just makes for slippery brown muck several inches deep. What’s wrong with them?
Or, what’s wrong with me? I hired a guy to plow my driveway this season, for the first time. I spent the first few weeks of the snow season, getting all excited every time he showed up to clear out the driveway. Took a while for the thrill to wear down to normal levels. It’s going to be hard to go back to shoveling now. And I feel like I’m losing my good relationship with snow. I sort of miss going out there. But… I also don’t.
We haven’t really had that bad of a winter, and yet today I faced the morning commute with a tinge of dread. That isn’t a usual feeling for me when it snows. I’ve lost some confidence. Maybe we’ve also lost confidence as a community. Whenever we have a lake effect day now, almost everything gets cancelled. It didn’t used to be that way — or at least, it wasn’t hyped up so much on the news.
I wonder if the people who have scattered from CNY to the four winds will ever be able to bring themselves to come back and accept winter as one of the four seasons. I wonder if the change in American weather tastes is permanent — that most people will keep on living in the hot, humid, stinging-insect-infested South and West because they believe living and working in snowtime is just too much of a sacrifice. I wonder how long our snow belt communities can maintain the stiff-upper-lip semblance of productivity during the snowiest winter months, without making official the impulse to hibernate (or play) during this season. Maybe it’s not just me.