Saturday, January 07, 2006

Memories of shoveling and shoveling and ...

JAMESTOWN, NEW YORK - I don't know if we ever got quite as much snow as shown in this photo from northern Japan, but there were times when the snow was up to the top of our windows in the front yard, easily eight feet.

And as a kid, well, that meant no school (Yea!) and usually a day of building igloos and wandering around the neighborhood throwing snowballs at the few cars that might have been on the roads.

My mother taught at R.R. Rogers school in Jamestown and would have the radio turned up loud (tuned to WJTN?) as she got ready for work any winter morning when the snow was flying, hoping herself for a snow day.

But most days it was suck-it-up and go to work, and for me, suck-it-up and go to school.

When I was about 13, what I remember most is hearing her leave, then come tromping back down the path about two minutes later at which time she would bang on my bedroom window - the signal to slip on my boots and help shovel her car out.

The snowplow would come by and box her car in quite thoroughly some nights and if it was snowing hard in the afternoon, I got to repeat the drill, this time shoveling so she would get the Rambler back in its spot.

But it was all just inconvenience when I was still in high school. After all, those big yellow boxcar buses took us directly to SWCS for our day of incarceration.

After graduation and my abortive attempt at Villanova (abortive at getting good grades, quite successful in the social and alcohol arenas), I went to work (and JCC) and discovered that the snow was as much as pain in the ass as putting up with various bosses at the jobs I held.

Suddenly, most mornings I had two cars to shovel out of the snowbank that we called our driveway. Afternoons, my mom was pretty much on her own, but when I came home later in the evening (from work or the bars), so was I, and had to carry a snowshovel in the tiny trunk of my Triumph Spitfire.

More than once I drove like a maniac to pass Jerry Ruby driving the big Lakewood snowplow down West Summit, fighting to get to my parking spot before he threw up a two-foot snow berm right where I wanted to be. Two feet was nearly as high as my car.

But I also remember Jerry also coming along in the mornings, just as I had shoveled our cars out. Sometimes, he would get a big grin on his face and throw up a huge mountain of snow for me to deal with, other times, he would slow down and lift the plow, giving a friendly little wave.

I learned quickly that buying Jerry a beer at the Big Tree bar Friday nights would save me a lot of shoveling.

Here's to you, Jerry...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Waking up New Year's Day to a blizzard

Snow, what snow?
Originally uploaded by Brite light photos.
JAMESTOWN, New York - The New Year always dawned cold - sometimes with a few feet of snow on the ground - and I remember thinking that Christmas vacation was almost over.

When I saw the photo with today's blog, I was reminded of those New Year's mornings.

The end of the Christmas holiday for me meant long months before the weather warmed and I could think about getting my boat out of storage at Maple Bay Marina and get back on the lake, to water ski and generally raise whatever hell was possible.

And I think February was the worst month, with those bitter, bitter cold days with no sun, howling winds and only Valentine's Day as a holiday worth thinking about.

Most New Year's Eves, I remember mostly wandering around with my friends, occasionally finding a party, more often just wandering.

Today in Puerto Vallarta I woke up to a chilly 69 degrees after listening to fireworks for a good part of the night. From our deck, we were able to see fireworks from a half-dozen hotels, the walkway along the city and to the north at all the beach resorts.

We will be celebrating the first day of the new year in La Manzanilla, 100 kilometers south of here where the main attraction (besides a French restaurant) is a swamp featuring crocodiles - the big monsters like we used to see on Ramar of the Jungle. Last season we saw a 25-footer and the only thing between you and destiny is some yellow police tape that says Peligroso!

That's a long way from Jamestown, a long way from the frostbite ice skating that sometimes was a big part of New Year's Day - if it wasn't snowing horizontally.

And in a weird way I kind of miss it this morning as we pack for our sojourn.

I'll get over it.