Winter: is it just me?

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.

6 Replies to “Winter: is it just me?”

  1. Driving back from a school board meeting at 10:30 last night through a blinding blizzard, I felt much the same way. I think we’ll see less and less of this expected snow removal service as municipalities cut back on overtime and staff, and more and more often we’ll have to creep along down the center of the road with our lights on low, hoping that we make the next hill without fishtailing into a snowbank.

    Or maybe it’s just February, and we’re ready for it to be over.

  2. It’s cool to think about all that Syracuse salt being spread all over the state. Sort of a CNY seasoning before the BBQ of Summer.

    The 3rd week of Feb is without doubt a toughie. But, days are getting longer, the birds and squirrels are waking up a little, and it’s actually time to plant some seeds.

    We can make it!

  3. The quality of snow removal does seem to be declining. I’m okay with that, and actually would prefer this, for the money it saves and less impact on the natural environment.

    But of course the snow seems to magically melt as you near the Mayor’s neighborhood :)

  4. Take a snow break and visit a lake… we have a bit of a different microclimate, so, we have been in mostly-melting mode for over a week. A little half-inch comes at night, melts during the day… doing some garden cleanup, which really feels good.

  5. my gripe remains shoveling. we’ve basically abdicated on that one, and sidewalks all over the city remain uncleared until the melt, forcing people – including the elderly and little kids – into the streets. we’re looking for new ‘industries’ here … one of them ought to be serving on the forefront of the best ways to handle snow.

    sean

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