How Blizzards Bring Out the Best of New Englanders

We never look forward to blizzards.  They’re a lot of work mixed with loads of downtime.  When weather forecasts warned that a major storm could hit, we immediately made sure we had basic necessities.  I’m lucky that Mike and I always have a stocked pantry, knowing we could eat canned soup or cereal is a snowstorm or hurricane hit.   Thanks to Liam and his games and toys, we always have a supply of batteries on hand.  We are avid campers and have a collection of flashlights.

At the first snow of the season, we learned that Liam outgrew his snow boots.  Tuesday, he and I went on a mission to get him new ones.  I’ve always managed to find them secondhand at odd times; no such luck hit this time.  We wound up going to LL Bean and buying him brand new boots.  We picked up milk, bread, and a few other things we might need if the storm gets worse.

Here’s the thing about Rhode Islanders and snow: we panic.  Some blame the Blizzard of ’78, when people were snowed in for days.  My eighth-grade history teacher told us the story of how she was stranded at school for a few days with a handful of kids.  The busses just couldn’t get to them.  My mom used to tell me that she had to send my dad out with a sled to purchase more diapers the one-year-old me.  Now, I find it funny that people rush to the store and clear the shelves.  Accurate weather forecasts provide plenty of warning and cleaning crews get us snowed out within a day.  However, people still race to Stop and Shop and pick the shelves clean.

Schools canceled the day before the storm. In my day, we had to watch the news that morning and follows the scrolling announcements in alphabetical order at the bottom of the screen, hoping to not miss your school district and have to sit there for another few minutes.  There was a bit of excitement as the announcements got closer to your district.  We also listened to an AM radio who read the reports.  (I have the hardest time trying to explain to Mike that the gentleman who read the announcements is a state treasure; he even has a beach named after him.)

The actual day of the snowstorm starts with nervous energy.  We turn up the heat a few degrees.  In case we lose power, this gives us a little more time to worry that the pipes will not freeze and burst.  We sit on the couch, drinking coffee and flipping the channels between local news and reruns that are syndicated on weekdays.  We let Liam play on his Kindle without tracking the amount of time.  He’s stuck inside for the day, he can play a little more than usual.  We read books.  We play games.  We act silly.  Liam reenacting his time on a mechanical shark at my college homecoming last fall was one of my favorite moments of the day! We watch cheesy movies.  At some point, we all venture off to other rooms to do our own thing.  Liam will go play in his room, I will find something to clean.  I love this time!

Snow days provide a great excuse to snuggle up on the couch and read

Mike tries to decide when to go outside and tackle the first round of snow blowing.  Even with a strong machine, heavy snow needs to be handled in shifts. When he heard our next door neighbor head out around noontime, Mike followed suit. While Mike took care of the driveway, I dug out our walkway and our neighbor’s walkway.  Liam came out with me, eager to play in the snow.  The snow was blowing around, giving Liam the idea to put on his swim goggles so he could see.  Sometimes, he is an innovator.


We went back inside to unthaw, sitting on the couch with our soft, fleece blankets.  At 4:00, we decided to head out again to dig out while we still had a bit of light.  Even though I shoveled four hours earlier, it looked like I hadn’t done anything!  I started digging out all over again.  A neighbor came over with his snowblower and finished the job for me.  Another neighbor cleared our older neighbors’ walkway.  Mike used his new snowblower on five driveways.  Neighbors came out and helped each other dig and clear.  We texted our neighbor, a hospital nurse who has to go to work, and let her know that her path and drviewat were cleared.  She called us a minute later to express her gratitude. It’s nice to know that actions can really change someone’s day.

While I don’t think many of us look forward blizzards, I think we enjoy the camaraderie that emerges during these storms.  We check in on each other before, during, and after the storm.  We look out for each other and help each other out.  We laugh and joke during a less than ideal situation.

Today, Liam and I will venture outside to dig a third time, this time to remove snow that blew back into the walkway overnight.  We will play board games, drink hot cocoa, and, even though I swear I will not indulge and overeat during these snow-ins, I will eventually suggest making cookies.  Mike and I will continue to check in with friends and family to make sure everyone is still okay.  Blizzards remind me that I am surrounded by amazing people, some by choice and some by chance.  New Englanders’ ability to handle copious amounts of snow and wind is another reason why I would never leave this area!

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