A giant snowstorm came through the northeast this past weekend, dumping over two feet of snow on us in Boston. Our friend Ricky flew in for a visit on Friday morning, just before the storm. This was the scene Friday afternoon, not long after the snow started falling. This is Peters Hill in the Arboretum, a popular spot for sledding, but we were the only ones out at the start of the storm. It would look a lot different up here by the time the storm ended.
Before dinner on Friday we went out on snowshoes through the three or four inches of powder that had fallen at that point. The city was shutting down and there was a statewide driving ban which left the roads deserted. We tromped through the woods until we were soaked with sweat and getting cold from the blowing wind and snow. We went out once more to explore on Friday night, when the storm was in full force and dumping several inches of snow per hour. We stopped and talked to the guys working at 711 who said they were sleeping over in the store because the roads were closed and the busses and trains were shut down. There were still plenty of people showing up to buy beer though. Then we hunkered down inside for the night, never lost power, and waited to see what things would look like in the morning.
At 7:30 on Saturday morning I stepped onto my porch, shoveled off the steps, and found myself waist deep in a snow drift. Then I spent half an hour digging and pushing out a gas company van that was stuck in a snowbank at the end of the street. Eventually my neighbor came over and together we got him out. It took until noon for me to finish shoveling around our house. I watched two more plow trucks get stuck in the same spot at the end of the road that morning.
After a quick lunch, Natasha and Ricky strapped on snowshoes and I got my cross country skis out for the first time this year, and we headed to the Arboretum to meet up with friends who were coming in from Jamaica Plain on their own skis and snowshoes. We broke a trail over Bubba’s hill through drifts four feet deep until we got to the main area of the Arboretum, where a few other people were already out exploring.
It was a beautiful, cold, and windy day, and everyone had a smile on their face, including all the dogs that were out charging around through piles of snow. Banjo made it out too, and happily fell into place between me and Travis on our skis at the head of the group. I tested my skills and my nerve by skiing down Peters Hill a couple times (successfully, I would add, as long as you count crash landing in a snowbank at the bottom a success).
As the afternoon wore on, members of our party started heading home one by one. I skied from Peters Hill over to the main JP entrance with Travis before heading back home on my own. That is one of my favorite routes to ski around here. It’s mostly downhill and passes through some big old hemlocks. It felt good to pick up the pace a little, traveling with just another skier. By the time we parted ways, I was tired. I had been outside shoveling and skiing for about 7 hours that day, with just a 15 minute lunch break inside. I made my way home slowly, chugging along uphill and making the most of the downhills. A red-tailed hawk hidden in some tall tree screeched as I went by, and another soared in circles looking for squirrels or rabbits dashing across the snow. By the time I got back to Bubbas hill, the trail we’d made earlier was completely filled in by blowing snow. That last half mile home through the deep snow was exhausting and there were several times when I had to stop and lean onto my poles, take a drink, and psych myself up to keep moving. Rarely has it ever felt so good to slip into sweatpants and curl up on the couch than it did that night.
Sunday brought a little more shoveling, skiing, and bumming around the “ski lodge” that our house had become for the weekend. Snow pants and wet clothes hung over the radiator and tumbled around in the dryer. Cars started reappearing on the roads. More neighbors showed up to dig their cars out of the snowbanks. Boston schools stayed closed Monday and Tuesday because there would have been no safe way for busses to get to kids. Lots of streets in town were unplowed until Sunday night. But now, mid-week, the temps are back up into the 40s and the city is buzzing again in all its grey-ish, wet, cold, cranky winter glory, with slightly narrower streets.