Why do we give names to hurricanes but not blizzards?
That was the thought that kept me company during the digging out this morning. Sometime between 6 and 6:30, while the coffee was brewing and the weather forecasters were explaining why they got wrong what they got wrong, I shoveled and scraped and warmed up the car in a Blanding Avenue conga line with my neighbors. The drive to South County was sloppy, choppy and slow, but the roads were mostly empty, and the office, once the computers rebooted, hummed with electricity and heat. Now, moaning winds and the plow music of beeping, grinding and road rumble make the sounds of the day beyond the window. Phones go off haphazardly. The workday settles into the pace of a snowdrift.
The Not-Quite-White Christmas was truly a Boxing Day blizzard, with aftermath lingering into Monday. It barely made deadline as the biggest storm of 2010, the largest accumulation of snow in Rhody since the two snowfalls that struck last December. Between blizzards, we passed a year, and in this week’s Arts & Living section we relive some of the scenes of 2010 from southern Rhode Island – from roads turned into rivers during the March floods to the University of Rhode Island research vessel Endeavor voyaging to the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the BP oil spill. Skipping through the images in our photo archives was an odd experience, compressing the news and seasons of an entire year into a couple of hours of fleeting glances and memories.
In the whirl of a snow globe, photographs fell from filing cabinets and folders, no two quite alike. A pair of snowmen greeted travelers along Slocum Road in Exeter. Children pushed through a tight passage of blossoms at Kinney Azalea Gardens in Kingston. Visitors to the South County Museum in Narragansett held newly hatched chicks and watched cracking eggs during the museum’s Fourth of July Rhode Island Red Chick Hatch. Waves from tropical storm Nicole battered the breakwater off Point Judith. Maples erupted in red and orange over an artist’s studio in Rockville.
A swirl of scenes, brief moments and encounters, and then it was over. Times grow yellow in a dusty morgue. This weekend's snowstorm at least gives the space and silence necessary for appreciation and reflection, countering the norm of accelerated lives. So to friends and strangers, followers and any folks just passing through, may these winter-worn days, dressed as they are in snowflake sweaters, thick boots and skin-tight balaclavas, give you pause to be grateful for the people and places you know. Remember, "zero visibility" is just a weatherman's way of saying "blindness," and always keep a shovel and a scraper in your car – but don’t forget the sleds, skates, skis and snowshoes either.
Rest in peace, 2010, and happy New Year.
What will you remember most from the past year?