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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Snow Kidding

I don't think anyone really believed it was going to happen.  Flurries aren't unheard of in October, but a full-fledged snow storm? With actual accumulations and snow sticking to the streets? Hardly likely.  I don't think I'm alone this year in my irritation about the Christmas decorations that already started crowding out the Halloween candy this year; but how could Mother Nature buy into that? A white Halloween? As the character Vizzini says in the movie, The Princess Bride, "Inconceivable!"

Snow business as usual
Which is why we all went about our business last Saturday, as if it was a normal fall day. Corinne, who is working on her senior thesis film, and had come to town along with her boyfriend Luke to do some location scouting. Her director of photography, Donovan, took the train in from New York; and on Saturday morning, the three of them went to Princeton to look at possible shooting sites.  Brian ran some errands, and I took my new iPhone birthday present (yay!) to the Verizon Wireless store to make sure I could port over my contacts correctly.

The snow was predicted to start in the mid to late afternoon; I think we were still in denial as the flakes started to come down around 10 AM. By noon, the snow was sticking on the roads. By 1:00, I was having difficulties driving back up the mountain to our house.


Rescue at the train station
Corinne was still on the road, so I called Luke, and asked him if Donovan was planning on going home that day. And if he was, I told him, then Corinne should drive directly to station and put him on the next train to the city.  Brian and I would drive down the mountain, and meet them at the station, bringing a bagel and shmear for Donavan to munch on his way home. I would drive Corinne's car with Luke and Corinne, and Brian would drive his car, and we'd make our way back up to the house.

At least that was the plan.

The 2:25 train wasn't there at 2:25. Or 2:30 for that matter. Or 2:45. By then, I decided to head back home, with Corinne and Luke. Brian stayed at the station to make sure Donovan actually got on the train.  He could wait a little longer since his car was a little better in the snow than Corinne's car. About five minutes after we left, Donovan gave up--and he and Brian began the drive to the mountaintop.

The roads were terrible by then.
Not only were they slippery, but there was about four inches of snow by then, and it weighed very heavy on branches that still had leaves on them. So many trees had just started changing colors, and others not even begun.  It is not supposed to snow this much when leaves are still on the trees.


Note to Mother Nature: It's not supposed to snow when the leaves are still on the trees
The result was that large, heavy limbs bent, and then snapped under the burden.  Every where we turned on our way home,  roads were closed due to fallen trees, and downed power lines. We would head up a road and find it blocked; we turned around so many times that Brian and Donovan eventually caught up with us.

Trees lean heavily into the road as we try to get home.

The way is shut. (Fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy will recognize that line.) This was the third attempt to get to my house. That's Mountaintop Road those folks just closed. "Lady, find another way," I was told.

Home never looked so good
It took us over an hour to get home.  Normally, the trip from the Bridgewater train station to our house takes 10 minutes.

We collected our wits, and worked on recovering from that inconceivable drive.

And then: "Crack! Crack! Crack!" and then: "Crash!" A tree limb landed on our deck. It just missed our glass-topped patio table. We went outside to assess the damage.

The first of many tree limbs to fall from the weight of the snow.

The trees were straining with the heavy snow. Limbs were bowing under the weight. And all around us, in neighbor's yards, in our woods, we'd hear the firework cracking sound, and a crash as yet another tree lost a limb.

Aaron (don't ask me why he's wearing shorts; it was COLD!) inspects a large limb that landed on our pool fence. We were about 30 feet away when it fell. The only safe place to be was where there wasn't any trees...hard to do in our back yard.

In the front yard, it was no better. Our beautiful magnolia looked spent and nearly flattened. Our redbuds were doing weeping willow impressions. In an effort to save them, Brian, Corinne and I went outside with brooms to knock the snow off these beautiful ornamental trees. We would do this twice over the course of the storm.

Our magnolia bends, but doesn't break.

It was actually kind of pretty outside, as we wandered around, looking at the brilliant fall colors played out against the white snow and the darkened bark of the wet trees.

The branches of the maple tree in our front yard came down to touch the ground, creating a hidden space within, where a bench sits. Pretty to look at but too dangerous to enter.

As I walked up our driveway toward the street, I heard the telltale cracking and ran forward. Behind me, not 10 steps away, another branch had crashed. I called to Brian and Corinne who were still closer to the house. "Um, I'm still here. That didn't hit me. I'll be right back."

And then I scurried back to the safety of the treeless area nearer the house. Time to go back inside.

An impromptu party for the snowbound
The original plan for the evening was for Thai takeout; since Corinne was home, we were going to celebrate my birthday a few days early, the idea was I shouldn't have to cook.

Time for Plan B, as there was No Way we were going back out on those roads. A quick pantry and fridge inventory revealed that I had the ingredients for a veggie and pasta dish, a spinach salad and some seasoned croissants. We invited my neighbor over as well, since I knew he was home alone and wouldn't be going anywhere in the storm, either.

Corinne helped me pull the meal together, and sent the boys downstairs to watch the movie The Princess Bride on the basement TV. We stopped every once in a while to marvel at the snow outside the windows. When a huge branch came crashing down on the shade garden, hitting (but not breaking) our family room window, we decided to close off the room and put collars on the cats in case they should escape. 

The animals take it in stride
It was easy enough to keep the dogs out; simply shut the door. But Dawn and Athena use the "windows" in our wall to go back and forth between kitchen and family room, and we needed a way to keep them out. Corinne taped newspapers over the window holes, which seemed to work fine. Seemed to. Later on, I heard a rustling in the kitchen and when I went to investigate, Dawn's head greeted me. Just her head--because the rest of her body was in the family room.

Dawn emerging. Once we found out her little trick, we taped the newspaper down a little better.

As for the rest of our menagerie, Jasper and Tucker didn't seem to care much about what was going on, though Lilah was a little worried about the unusual noises she was hearing. The dogs loved the snow when we took them outside, but were quite frustrated when we kept them on their leashes. With huge branches crashing around us, we weren't taking any chances with our furry friends.

Lilah was unsure about the Funny Sounds coming from outside.

Jasper lay down nearby to keep her company.

Say "cheesecake!"
Since Brian had picked up a birthday cheesecake during his morning errand run, we all had a perfect dessert after dinner.

Birthday cheesecake: my favorite.

The snow continued to fall until about 10 or so that night; sometimes we'd hear more branches falling as we tried to sleep. We hoped we wouldn't lose power, but felt some comfort knowing our generator served us well during Hurricane Irene.

In my next post, I'll write about the aftermath, and post some pictures of this freakish snowfall.


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