I bring this up is because, during the last ten years, we’ve had minimal snowfall here in southwestern Pennsylvania. We had maybe six good days of snow scattered throughout the three months. It wasn’t like the days of my childhood, when we would have the white stuff covering the ground from the second week of November all the way to Easter.
Nostalgically, I missed it. I missed seeing the billowy white covering bare tree limbs. I missed the coolness of the window pane I would fog with my breath as I made funny caricatures in the heated mist. I missed seeing the birds sitting on pine trees, the colorful cardinals and blue jays and downy woodpeckers, as they appeared as tiny colored lights at Christmas time.
For the past two years since starting this blog, I’ve
From the title of this post, you know what I got this year.
Since New Year’s Eve until Sunday of last week, it had snowed, and snowed, and snowed. By estimates for our area, we had from 16 to 24 inches on the ground. All this snowfall reminds me of the BLIZZARD OF 97. It was a significant time in my life.
It was the year where I almost died.
I had booked a full week up at the resort that year. It looked to be a great time coming - plenty of fresh snow to go along with what the resort could make. Excellent temperature for skiing - 20 degrees. My bags were packed. I had a great dinner. I went to bed early for my trip out the next day, listening to the gentle snowfall striking the bedroom window.
Gentle snowfall in Pennsylvania?
I awoke the next morning to find a full-blown whiteout. 24 inches lay on the ground from overnight. Southwestern PA area was now in a state of emergency. The only vehicles allowed on the streets were medical workers, police, and the National Guard.
I rescheduled my reservations for the following week and when the roads reopened I headed to the resort. I skied morning, noon, and night. Personally, I hate night skiing. The slopes were choppier, haphazard, instead of the smooth packed surface at 7:30am. The accident happened Wednesday, three days into my seven-day vacation.
I hit a dip in the slope. My ski went one way as my body went the other. I slammed down awkwardly on my left knee. Pain shot along the entire length.
Luckily, I was near where the lodge and hotel were located. I got to my feet, buckled back into my skis, and gingerly made my way down. That was it for the night. The next day, I went to the ski patrol’s medical building. The guy there wrapped an ace bandage around my knee and helped me back to my room. I spent the rest of my vacation inside the hotel, playing video games and watching local hick bands and renting movies. Boring.
On the seventh day, I checked out. My brother worked at the resort, teaching snowboarding lessons, so he drove. Although the roads were usually bad when heading to the resort, because of the blizzard, the roads were now bad when heading FROM the resort. The snow had delayed truck deliveries with the closures. Countless tractor trailers were trying to get their loads to destinations and still break even for the month. Traffic congestion galore.
We were about six cars back behind a large semi. Whenever there was a break in traffic on the opposing side, a car would madly dash around. This was dangerous in itself because of the steep hills and sharp bends. But those drivers felt confident enough to pass. When our car was finally behind the truck, my brother WAITED. He didn’t want to take the chance. We kept our pace until we hit a main level thruway. Then my brother tried to pass. Our car neared the front of the truck’s cab.
The truck driver pressed down on the gas. He hadn’t done this with any other cars but ours. He floored it. Angry over the driver doing this, my brother floored it.
The road became a drag strip, our high octane racers peeling up the pavement hoping to make the invisible finish line before a passing cop busted our betting party. What should have been an easy few seconds’ go-around now dragged on for too long. Also, the patch of road we were on would soon curve around a hillside.
A truck appeared in the opposing lane. Just like that - a snap of the fingers - the road was clear a moment. Then the next second a semi came around the blind bend. He lay on his horn and braked.
My brother slammed both feet on the brake and twirled the steering wheel to the right. The racing driver still had his foot on the gas of his truck, so he shot past before we could plow into the side of his trailer bed. We swerved entirely across the two lanes and off the side as our car slammed into the deep snowbank. It was half-buried on my side from bumper to bumper.
My brother asked if I was all right. Shaken, I nodded. He got out the car as the trucker from the semi we almost collided with cussed at us. My brother gave an apologetic wave and walked a few feet up to the nearby store. He came back with their shovel and began digging the car out. I could not do much on my bad leg. Once most of the snow was cleared away, he hopped back into the driver’s seat and pulled away from the embankment. He found the nearest parking lot, got out, and checked for damage.
There wasn’t a scratch. Not a dent, or a busted headlight, or a snapped radio antenna.
Well, that’s my tale. I have wonderful memories of the snow, of sled riding and snowball fights and building life-sized igloos. Yet whenever I see a lot of snow on the ground, I’m reminded of the BLIZZARD OF 97.
Next year, remind me not to b**th about the weather so much.