The Star-Herald

A day in the life of a blizzard

Only one snowflake was wanted. It was a snow storm. Its like not seen in many years, the storm made tatters of the highways and grown men whimpered in the onslaught of frozen precipitation. At its peak nothing moved and snow snakes whipped through the streets and between the houses with utter abandon. It was a snow storm, and overnight it entered the legend books.

Drifts were taller than the town plow. Driveways filled and refilled in less time than the average coffee could be drunk. Everywhere one looked, it was nothing but white. It was a storm that sent weather guys into paroxysms of delight. All the toys could be used. There were charts of snowfall rates, temperature shifts, flake velocity, flake density and flaky crusts. The flakes had taken over.

Stories will be told of people going out to get some bread, never to be seen again; of snow plow drivers pushing into a bank of snow and disappearing, with only the idling truck to be found. Mothers-in-law wisely keep their thoughts to themselves at times like these.

Tales of daring and determination arose as neighbor after neighbor came by to either push more snow past the door or roll out yet another green bean casserole. Ambulance crews earned marks for their ability to navigate desolate space by the light of the moon and the whisper of a prayer. It was a storm.

The descent of white stuff from heaven prompted the ascent of pictures to lofty heights. Pictures of people with banks so high the birds did not have to fly. Kids in every sort of padding, sledding, skiing, and swallowing buckets of chocolate, coffee and tea. Babies who could not wait; wheezing geezers who sniffed and recalled storms of the past, and much worse — it was a storm.

Highway department managers, with charts and screens of the latest data, were helpless as yet another division of snow jumpers filled the streets. One driveway plowed open and a torrent of abuse for the highway crews to plow it back in. Referee stripes and a whistle sounded the alarm as yet another brawl began and ended. Hockey played where spuds grew. It was a storm.

And then it ended. With a shrug — it’s one more shovelful of snow; one more puff of wind blowing against the window; one more crunch of car versus plow; one more weak coffee; and one more frozen water pipe. Now, all gone, remembered only as items in the diary. It was a storm.

Thanks to stubborn indifference and infectious tenacity, those billions of flakes were plowed, blown, salted, and brined until nothing remained. It was a storm.

Orpheus Allison is a photojournalist living in The County who graduated from UMPI and earned a master of liberal arts degree from the University of North Carolina. He began his journalism career at WAGM television later working in many different areas of the US. After 20 years of television he changed careers and taught in China and Korea.

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