Now, finally, after all those false starts, those maddeningly mild days in February, those sadistically sunny days in March, now, finally, we can perhaps look back on winter, and assess.
I have not lived in New England very long, so perhaps my powers of assessment are limited, compared to the over-arching wisdom of locals, townies, long-termers, lifers, and the smart-looking gray-haired woman in the checkout line ahead of me yesterday, who I overheard admitting somewhat shame-facedly that she had only lived here 29 years, so what did she know.
But in spite of my greenness, let me boldly say, my take on the winter we’ve just emerged from is as follows: Pretty good.
Times I skidded my very small car into a snowbank: Zero. (Times I thanked God for a near miss: 119.)
Times I heard a native New Englander say, “I love the snow”: Zero.
Times a middle schooler playing hockey on the frozen pond south of Linebrook Road across from Howe Street was trapped in the ice and extricated only by heavy-duty machinery brought in from Topsfield: Zero.
Times I fell on the ice and broke my neck: Zero. (Times I slipped and wrenched my back but caught myself before I splattered myself on the cruel crust of New England and required an ambulance: 14.)
Number of deer found warming their hooves on warm bags of garbage recently set out behind the Clam Box: Zero.
Times the power went out, leaving us huddled around our fireplace, wishing we had thought ahead to buy a generator, a camp stove, anything: Zero. (Why? Because last spring, I bought a generator, and a camp stove.)
Times I had to burrow through the snow to get to my mailbox, only to find my mailman immobile in his vehicle, his body a grotesque ice sculpture, unnaturally bent halfway between his sorting box, his lips snarled into the shape of “Why the devil do these people need all these catalogs?”, and my mailbox, where he would have reached out to touch the fiendishly cold door-handle and instantly become a pillar of ice, if only his body had still been liquid enough to reach out at all: Zero.
Times the desperately frigid temperatures drove Ipswich citizens thrashing out local issues online to temporarily suspend the warfare and devote themselves to shoveling their driveways: Zero.
Times I peeked out my front window to see if my neighbor across the street was using his enormous snowblower and wondered if he might come help me with my driveway: 147.
Times I told my fifth-grader, “Wear a coat”: Zero. (Why? Because she began training me four years ago, when she was a first-grader, that children do not require coats.)
Number of inches the snowbank at the corner of Linebrook and Randall Road exceeded the height of my very small car: 17.
Times I thanked God for those Ipswich get-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night road-scraper guys: 1,147,248. We don’t appreciate them enough.
Yes, this winter, we lost some good friends. Some old friends. Every winter, in its way, is a rough winter. And we had some disagreements. Some stuff is just a matter of taste. Of preference. A difference of opinion.
But it was a good winter. A New England winter. We weathered it. We are still together.
Love conquers all.