Saturday, February 9, 2013

Blizzards Past and Present

I just happen to be reading a biography of Ella Grasso this week. In 1974 the wise voters of CT (including me!)     elected Ella the first woman governor to secure the position in her own right. I’m especially interested in Ella because, a few years ago, I moved to her hometown. I’ve been trying to figure out just where she lived for a while now. I had it narrowed down to one street of modest homes about  a mile from me. Finally, Jon E Purmont’s biography  of Ella pinpointed the exact address: 13 Olive Street, across the street from her parents’ house at 12 Olive Street.

Ella’s first term as governor  put her in charge of the State’s response to the Blizzard of 1978, an epic storm that cast “nearly two feet of snow,” over three days, February 5 to February 7.  Coincidentally, today, thirty-five years later (almost to the day!) the Blizzard of 2013 rivals the 78-er with about the same amount of snow having fallen in half the time.

I thought I was on top of this weekend's storm. Yesterday, as the snow fell gently but steadily through the morning and afternoon, I kept a path open for Winnie, my elder doggie. I shoveled an inch or so at a time, through the day, figuring this would keep the snow removal “doable” in the morning. Last mini-clean-up ensued during Winnie’s last “run” for the night – about 9 PM. That’s when I noticed the wind blew stronger than during the earlier part of the day.

Off to bed reading Ella, and then off to sleep, I woke up in the middle of the night. The snow- glow through the window, so typical of a nighttime  storm,  drew me to take a peak outside. Flakes weren't falling. Not down, anyway. Sheets of whiteness fiercely flew horizontally, before my eyes. The sight bordered on the preternatural.!


Took a while for me to get back to sleep with that image frozen in my mind, accompanied by the howling of the night’s idiot wind. By 7 AM, when Winnie was ready to do her morning thing, I got up to open the back door. A wall of snow stood before her doggie eyes. The barrier  piled up past my thigh. This was just one of many mighty high piles throughout the yard that drifted far above the official two feet that had accumulated overnight. Pre-shoveling my backyard driveway through yesterday hadn't made a bit of a difference. My driveway and yard were impassable.

Best neighbor in the world

Today, when I talked to the best neighbor in the world (after he had snow-blown my driveway) he said he had been up at 3 AM too. Unlike me, who just took a peak outdoors, he went outside and watched one inch . . .two inches . . . three inches accumulate before his eyes. What had taken a full day to accumulate earlier took only minutes in the middle of the night! 

This afternoon, tired from snow-clearing and tired of 24/7 TV coverage of the blizzard, I picked up the Grasso bio where I left off, the start of her second term election year. I was reminded how nine months before the election Ella prevailed in a Mother Nature vs. Mama Grasso blizzard showdown. The Governor  took “full charge of the emergency operations." Even spent one night “catching a few hours of sleep on an office sofa” in the emergency headquarters. For the sake of safety, she closed the roads for three days, made herself available to press and media, and got President Carter to send federal troops from Fort Hood, TX to help the Connecticut National Guard with clean-up.

I've decided to put the bio aside a few days.Now where did I put  Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer?

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