I admit to being a person who is fond of snow. Scratch that – I absolutely love snow. I love it in all forms: wet globs, feathery flakes, compact pellets, crystalline shards, it’s all wonderful!
My first few winters in DC had more than their share of wonderful snow. The District looks particularly lovely with a fresh coat of white: the Mall and its trees are like the best of Ansel Adams when blanketed in downy snow, with the deep crimson of the Smithsonian castle breaking the black-and-white landscape. At night, the sodium streetlamps give a snow-covered DC the feel of a living sepia print.
Of course, when you mention snow to most DC-area residents (especially when you tag on “accumulation” after “snow”), they tend to freak out. As JFK once mused, the District “has northern snows and southern plowing.” The people of this area, at the first hint of accumulating snow, rush to the grocery stores to stock up on “BMTP” (bread, milk and toilet paper), as well as snow shovels, salt, sand and other things that they probably bought last winter to deal with threatening winter storms. The TV stations obsess over the storms, with the local prognosticators using every technological wonder tool to try and pinpoint the trajectory of every single flake as it falls toward the ground (and misses, more often than not). Of course, the more tools, the less accurate the forecast – I’ve never seen a more inept group of meterorologists than the pack of TV forecasters here in DC.
The streets in DC often live up to Kennedy’s quip: the plow drivers here seem to be as scared of the snow as the residents. When sprite and I first moved to DC in February 2003, it was right after a very large blizzard. It took weeks for our street to get plowed. We’d see DC DOT plow drivers evaluate our street, get scared, and go on to another, less threatening conquest. Never mind that our street only had about 4 inches of snow on it, some of which had been packed into icy ruts by drivers who didn’t mind a little “pavÃ© glacÃ©e.” In fact, it wasn’t until a convoy of plows from New Jersey arrived that anything in DC was properly cleared of snow and ice.
I find it all funny, but refreshing. To me, winter is my favorite season, and a large part of that is due to the snow. In 2003, 2004 and 2005, there were some beautiful snowfalls in DC. And right now, I’m longing for snow to fall. Out in Utah, where I grew up, there’s been plenty of snowfall, and the ski resorts look beautiful. In Connecticut, where I lived for 10 years before moving to DC, it’s been snowing quite a bit over the past few days, and I got a quick fix over Thanksgiving and Christmas. We even had a small accumulation of snow in DC back in December.
Of late, however, the weather in DC has been warm. It has rained a lot, and the snow and ice have since melted into the Potomac and out to sea. Now I want snow. Now I need snow. It’s winter, damn it, yet it’s warm and rainy. The snow is an essential part of the winter months for me. Like beach lovers need their surf and sand, this skier needs his snow – c’mon, nature, throw me a bone!