SHOVELING SNOW IN SPRING – By Hubert Williams

SHOVELING  SNOW  IN  SPRING

By  Hubert  Williams

snow       Newton, Massachusetts, April 5, 2016 — After exulting for three months in the tropical pleasures of Barbados in the Eastern Caribbean, followed immediately by a fabulous week in the splendour of the Sandos Playa del Carmen Resort on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, I had no enthusiastic welcome for this weekend’s springtime snowfall in the U.S. northeast.

At least one has to admit that the professional meteorologists were absolutely spot on with their forecast that there would be snowfall on Sunday and Monday, April 3 and 4.

That came as a surprise to me, and I quizzed myself as to what was I doing back in Massachusetts if there is to be resumption of wintertime conditions.    

My travel schedule over the start of the year had been determined on the basis of the experts’ forecasting. They had described the 2015-2016 winter as mild – compared with the monster of 2014-2015, which dumped a record 110 feet of snow on Boston.

This year looked so very different – Spring having sprung with all its promise on March 19; and, rapidly, our leafless rose trees and other perennials in the garden began to give signs of renewed growth. We were elated at these wonderful signs.

The Springtime weather was immediately favourable for road walking without much cover, as I did, to places like the supermarket, post office, and, generally, just for exercise.

The Northeastern USA changed its clocks an hour forward, thus back to the same time as Barbados (termed springing forward), making it much easier for me in scheduling telephone communications with friends and colleagues on the island.

Immediately after summer (in the autumn) we fall back by an hour…simply put, the time change is done to accord with availability of daylight for the vernal equinox and autumn equinox; summer solstice and winter solstice.

Since last week meteorologists had forewarned of a developing system in the northeast which they named Ursula, In time, the storm blew stiff winds over a long stretch along the Atlantic Ocean from south of New York to well east of Boston; and in the area of our residence dumped snow all of Sunday and throughout Monday.

Though by its development it threatened the declared mildness of this year’s Winter and succeeded in pushing Spring out of the headlines, Ursula was for me a welcome sight in some respects, because falling snow is always such a remarkable sight.

Nature has produced nothing in its creations that matches the pure whiteness of freshly fallen snow… and every time I bear witness to this natural phenomenon, I remember my childhood experience in a colonial school so very long ago, of reciting “Mary had a little lamb; its fleece was white as snow and everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go” etc, etc, etc. We then tiny-tots had no idea what snow was… for our homes had no radio, no TV, only adults infrequently went to the cinema, and our concept of snow was the cotton wool on our homes’ Christmas trees during the Festive Season.

So…. real snow still fascinates me; and, thus, whenever I take the grands to the nearby snowed-over slopes for their sleigh-rides, I too get great fun playing in the stuff.

Yesterday and Sunday’s snow dumping on the region by Ursula reached 8 inches in some areas, creating danger for homes and road travelers, to the extent that a couple was reported killed in Abington, Massachusetts, by a large tree falling on their car.

However, the experience in my area of Newton was mild. About an 8-inch fall overall, but the snow was bright, light and wispy… such a remarkable sight, covering everything…         However, there was great ease in shoveling it off and tossing it aside… nothing akin to the heart attack danger that Wintertime shoveling poses, both with its very low temperatures (sometimes numbingly cold) and the great rapidity at which the fallen snow freezes into layers of ice, becoming very heavy.

Thus, Wintertime shoveling of frozen-over stairways and driveways presents a considerable challenge against which the elderly and not-so-well are annually warned, both by the authorities and by health care professionals – as well as by the growing number of reported deaths among those who so attempt.

Today, when the temperature warmed up dramatically, the piled snow quickly began to disappear as if anxious to clear the way for Spring’s rebirth; and because of the relative Springtime warmth, no icicles had formed from the roof’s edge to pose a grave danger when they dislodge, falling like weighted daggers, piercing whatever they strike.

Consequently, the conditions were ideal for me to tackle the banked-but-not-frozen snow with a broad shovel, delight in the cool-to-warm environment, get in some worthy exercise, and shed whatever extra weight might have resulted from the Barbados/Sandos epicurean extravagance.

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