My neighbor drove past my house and rejoiced. The fence at the edge of my property was finally peeping through the top of the mountainous snowbank. It wasn’t really a full-on “spring,” but at least there was a glimmer of hope.
My neighbor’s heart was still singing, an hour later, as she went about her normal routines at home. But then came the scream. A blood-curdling shriek of pain from her six-year-old on the other end of the house. My neighbor raced toward the awful sound, envisioning a blood-splattered scene of tragedy. As she flung herself around the final corner, she found her daughter standing in the middle of the room, the back of one hand over her horrified open mouth, the other hand clenched and pointing wildly at the window. Mommy’s face jerked toward the outdoors to see what ghastly site had terrified her little one.
There it was: a silent, gentle, almost whimsical wisp of a snowfall.
“More snow!” the youngster bawled.
Barely an hour earlier, her mother had been singing to herself, brimming with sweet anticipation. Now, without warning, New England had cruelly violated her little girl. Just six years of age, yet the Winter of ’15 had damaged her soul. Maybe permanently.
It was heartbreaking to me, hearing of this incident after the fact. Not only because of the pain both mother and daughter had suffered, but also because it was completely unnecessary. If I had only been there, I could have helped them avoid such a trauma.
Not that I’m a licensed psychologist, or even a meteorologist. But I am a newcomer to New England, a refugee from two decades the desert, and as such, I have paid extremely close attention to snow. Native New Englanders are so used to winter weather, they normally don’t take much note of the fluffy stuff falling from the sky. So when a bizarre winter comes along — like the one we’re still trying to extract ourselves from — many New Englanders are blindsided.
It need not be.
I am happy to provide a primer, free of charge, to help you effectively observe, accurately define, and emotionally process the varieties of New England snow.
(You’ve heard, of course, the old saying that the Eskimos have 200 different words for snow. This is absolutely not true. It’s New Englanders who have 200 different words for snow; most of them just haven’t learned the words. It’s time, folks.)
The snow that fell last Saturday, for example, need not have troubled anyone, least of all an innocent six-year-old on outer Linebrook. What fell from the sky on Saturday was not really “snow”; it was snork. Actually, this isn’t how you spell it: this is just how you pronounce it. The actual spelling is snorc — which stands for “Snow of NO Real Consequence.” Snow can fall thick and fast and seem extremely threatening, but if it doesn’t stick to the ground, it’s not snow. “Don’t freak, little girl. It’s only snorc.”
Then there’s the type of snow that accumulates just enough to make for treacherous walking and driving, but not quite enough to trigger the snow-plow guy you contracted with last autumn. This type of snow is called dydadec. This stands for “Does You Dirty And Doesn’t Even Care.”
The snow whose only function is to spread a pretty white layer over the ugly black stuff along the edge of the road is called prettybut. This is short for “Pretty But It Would Be Better Just Not To Have Any More Snow At All.”
For purposes of this introductory lesson, let me offer just one more entry for your New England snow glossary. There’s a kind of snow that waits till after all the previous snow has melted, then it arrives out of the blue, just to make you crazy. This type of snow is called — wait, never mind. You don’t really need to take up any brain space memorizing the term for this type of snow, because the snow we have on the ground already is never going to totally melt. Because of all the snorc.