My 25-year-old daughter doesn’t have her driver license. If you’re from New York City and you just read that sentence, you probably aren’t too shocked. Many New Yorkers never learn to drive. There’s no need to. Subways and buses, which go to most parts of the five boroughs, run 24/7. (Or not, depending on the on-going service disruptions due subway construction. This recent article from the New York Times captures our sense of entitlement, frustration and dependence.) In fact, I had a much easier time of the teen years than did my friends in the suburbs, ex-urbs or car-dependent urban areas: I did not have to worry about my kids driving drunk. Sure I had to worry about all the other things parents of teens do — teens do stupid things and can end up in trouble, or, worse, hurt. And it wasn’t until my son was in college that he mentioned that one night their senior year of high school, his friend Ben had taken his grandparents’ car (with permission) and driven them all to Great Adventure down in Jersey. But back to my daughter. While many New York City non-driving kids do learn in college because getting off campus becomes imperative, my daughter went to school outside of Boston, and was within walking distance of the “T.” (My daughter had one friend in college at Emory who owned a car before she managed to get her license, and got in trouble at a routine traffic check because she was driving without a license. As I said, young people can have lousy judgment.) So here she is, at age 25, without a driver license and maybe about to move out of New York City. (Yes, I wrote those words, and I’m sick over it, but that’s another blog.) Her permit had actually run out. But she took care of that. And now we (and her boyfriend) have been giving her driving lessons. I must say that this time around–she actually did try half-heartedly several years ago–she is fantastic. She steers well, keeps to the speed limit, and shows great confidence and determination. She came upstate for a few days and drove the long way to the supermarket (six miles) and the very long way back. We had even thought of making a trip to the outlet mall in Lee, MA on Friday. I90 may be one of the easiest interstates around. But we woke Friday morning to snow, and that killed our outing. No more driving lessons from us for a while. No outlet bargains for us.
1/2/12 So over New Year’s, it was so warm I was outside in just a sweater. This afternoon I ran in snow flurries, and the temperature tomorrow night is supposed to be 10 degrees. The climate this fall/winter has been so up and down. The late October blizzard dumped 18- inches on my deck at my house in upstate New York. (In New York City, there were a couple of inches of slush.) Then there were one or two little snowstorms, but there’s really been nothing like real winter this whole, well, winter. Long term predictions don’t put any snow in the picture. For NYC, I don’t mind. Snow is such a hassle there. It gets dirty quickly, full of dirt from the air and street and yellow and brown reminders that people who walk their dogs don’t always clean up the way they should. But for upstate, the lack of snow has taken its toll on the ski areas. When it’s cold they can at least make snow, but not when it rains. And there has been plenty of rain, so much so that the little brooks near my house have been flowing, hard and quickly and with a lot of noise. I took the photo above a few days ago when the temperature dipped below freezing for a few days: a little ice around the culvert, but otherwise rushing water. Then it got warm again–and some of my spring bulbs have pushed their shoots above the ground. Sometimes that happens in late February, but this January 2. The way plants and nature work in this zone is that they go dormant when the weather gets cold, building up their energy for the next year. A blanket of snow keeps them just warm enough. At least our bluebirds, who winter over, seem happy. They’ve been eating through a feeder full of meal worms every day. Still, even though last year in February I looked out my window at the vast expanses of white and felt quite claustrophobic, this year I miss the snow. I truly do. Would love your comments. And, I’m on Twitter @Wordwhacker.
People in NYC are going nuts over this snowstorm–it is the largest amount of snow recorded in NYC since before the Civil War. Well, I’m at my country house 120 miles or so north of NYC, and it’s been snowing hard since this afternoon. I did manage a three mile run in the mid-afternoon, the snow stinging my face. Before that, though, I drove into town to get a new snow shovel. So I ended up with three. We needed a new shovel and a bag of “ice melt.” The one we had was old and metal, and it nicked the paint on the back steps and the deck. The new ones, well one looks like our old metal shovel. But then I got these two great ergonic shovels by Rugg, one big and long, the other more Linda-sized. Considering it will warm up tomorrow to the 40′s, and someone comes to plow our driveway, I’m not even sure I’ll need them tomorrow. But I am now prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws our way this winter. The first winter snow is always so pretty, even when it happens in autumn.
I drove upstate Thursday afternoon because I had to meet up with the guy who is going to be putting up the deer fencing. Yep, those deer. They love my plants and trees, and when the ground gets hard and grass dies in winter, guess what they go for? My plants and trees. So we have elaborate ritual of the plastic netting going up the first week in November and back down about May 15. The deer still manage to get at stuff, but the deer fencing helps. Anyway, when I began my drive it was raining in the city. By Dutchess County, the rain had turned into huge flakes splatting themselves onto my windshield. By Columbia County, the snow was sticking to the grass. By my house–well, it looked like a blizzard. This morning I woke to a bright sky reflecting on endless fields of white, trees limbs that looked like they had been whisked out of a winter holiday store window, and the realization that my snow boots are downstate. It’s 35 degrees already, so most of this will melt within a few hours, and probably I won’t need boots. Still, it’s the largest snow accumulation at such an early date since before the Civil War, I’m hearing on the TV and radio. I wish the kids were little still and were here with me. This wet stuff would make great snowmen. I haven’t been down to town yet, but I bet there were a goodly number of snowball fights this morning. I have no idea what this early snowfall means. Yes, I am a big believer in climate change, as are all the reputable scientists. But, still, this early snowfall is most likely a fluke of nature. But a pretty one. (Note to self: buy snow shovel in town today.)