An Optimistic Nature-Lover’s View of Winter Storm JonasJanuary 24, 2016
Let me first say that I no longer own a car, or have any need to drive one. Everywhere I need to go I can walk or take public transportation.
I live in an apartment and so I don’t have to shovel to get out. I work at home.
I have lots of little markets within blocks to pick up anything I need.
And my health is really good right now.
I know that’s not the case for everyone and so a gigantic winter storm might be a huge pain in the you-know-what.
BUT I CAN’T HELP IT – I LOVE A GOOD STORM!!!
I have always been fascinated with storms, no matter what time of year. I recognize the danger they present to us humans, but nevertheless – especially when I’m home safe and sound – I love a good storm.
The air afterward seems freshly charged and cleared of negativity. And the brief moment of stillness seems almost sacred.
As a child, I was terrified of tornados, and for a good chunk of my life, I had tornado nightmares. “The Wizard of Oz” certainly didn’t help.
I vividly remember being air-born as a young child, gripping my father’s hand as we ran to the car when a ferocious wind caught us by surprise at a family picnic.
Another time, my mother and I peered out of our side door to see a funnel cloud pass right over our house. I was terrified but mesmerized.
And decades later when I had my own family, a tornado tore through our neighborhood. The sirens were blaring as I sent my daughter and the dogs downstairs to the basement.
I couldn’t resist – I stepped outside on the back porch. The sky had turned a ghastly but eerily beautiful green, the air seemed to have stopped moving, and I felt the temperature plummet.
I remember thinking how amazing and powerful Mother Nature is. And then I ran for safety in the basement.
What they say about tornados sounding like freight trains is true. It sounded like one ran right through our backyard, followed by utter silence. Devastation greeted us outside. The majestic tree-lined street had changed forever.
Growing up in Detroit when winter was really winter, snowstorms meant playtime. They didn’t plow the side streets back then and so we truly were snowed in. For days.
I loved it then, and I love it now.
So when news of Nor’easter Jonas reached my ears I felt like a kid again. I dug out my snow boots and warm gear and waited with baited breath to see if the predictions were correct. There’s nothing worse than a big storm that peters out (in my storm-loving opinion).
But Jonas (I love that they name winter storms now!) did not disappoint. And so I put the word out to my neighbors to play outside.
We used the handicap ramp to sled down (I know…how lame is that?) and attempted a snowball fight with the powdery stuff. Most of us headed inside to hunker down and watch a movie. Some were going in to drink champagne.
The snow and wind were pretty intense all day. Around 5:00, instead of my usual afternoon meditation, I decided to venture back outside. Bundled from head to toe, I thought I would take a walk down the block.
But I just kept walking and realized I was headed towards the river. I live in an old warehouse district about five blocks from the Hudson River.
The wind was gusting and the snow was coming down. I was surprisingly cozy inside my winter gear, but for my poor exposed face. Note to self – buy a ski mask!
My walk became my meditation.
I can’t tell you how peaceful it was. There were no cars and I only encountered a few other people. The air smelled fresh and crisp and the snow was beautiful.
As I rounded the corner to the river, something seemed off. It was dark outside by now, but where were the lights of Manhattan? I got to the railing and was awestruck that I couldn’t see a single light or a single building across the river. Talk about eerie.
I trudged home, breathing in the fresh cold air, frozen eyelashes, but warm and dry everywhere else.
I joked on Facebook that it was my city-girl version of “Wild”.
It was so worth it.
Today I woke up to a different landscape. I thought momentarily, “I wish I lived near a forest so I could go walk among the trees”, but I don’t, and so I made a different plan.
I would walk to Hamilton Park, about eight blocks away. I would go see the trees and be with like-minded winter storm-loving people.
On my way there I encountered mostly good-natured neighbors digging their cars out and shoveling the walks. I heard a dad making a game of it with his kids and saw a young woman who was humming while meditatively brushing the snow off of her car.
The sky was a bright blue today and the wind had retreated. A perfect after-the-storm kind of day. And a Sunday, to boot.
When I got to the park, it was filled with families. They had fashioned mini sledding hills down the steps of the Gazebo and little ones were flying down it.
City dwellers can be really creative.
On my walk home, I saw numerous caves and forts being built in the snow piled in front of the brownstones that line the streets.
I talk a lot about being a Nature-lover living in the city. Maybe someday in my future, I’ll live near (or in!) a forest, or on a lake. But for now, I just seek it out as best I can.
And when Mother Nature dumps something like Jonas on us, I opt to become a kid again, enjoying every precious moment.
If you’d offered me a trip to the Caribbean in lieu of a monster winter storm, I would have declined. I’m not kidding. I love all four seasons and believe it or not, January has become one of my favorite months.
I couldn’t coax my dear Colombian friend out to play in the snow. But that’s okay, I understand. She’s busy dreaming of warm beaches in her beautiful country.
I hope lots of my fellow East-coasters were safe and had a spectacular time playing in the snow.