Many in Valley welcomed Winter Storm Nemo's fun side



Last modified: Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Mark Corner grew up in Virginia, but he’s been in the Valley long enough to know what to do when there’s a snow day — even one called because of a huge, advancing snowstorm.

As a massive winter storm bore down on New England Friday, residents across the region were finding ways to engage with the elements — and have fun doing so.

“It’s New England,” said Corner, who was out on the snow-whitened playground at the Helen E. James School on Main Street in Williamsburg around 1 p.m. Friday with his wife and two young children, Ada, 3 and Lucinda, 10 months.

“You have to figure out what to do in the snow,” said Corner, who is vice president for engineering for Fiksu mobile application company in Northampton.

About an hour earlier, they’d invited their neighbors, John and Ryan Pickard, and their kids, Luke, 3 and Claire, 1, out to play in the flakes that were starting to come down in earnest Friday afternoon.

With the schoolgrounds to themselves, the two families were making good use of the slides, swings and the fresh, sticky snow that the children were happily munching off the ends of their mittens.

“It’s good to eat it now instead of later,” quipped John Pickard, who teaches English at Waconah Regional High School in Dalton.

In a field beside the Anne T. Dunphy School in Williamsburg, Barry Freedland and his two sons had just finished a game of “snow soccer” with a small group of people who’d responded to an email invitation Freedland sent to school parents earlier in the day.

“We’ve had one too many storms now where they’ve cancelled school,” said Freedland, who, as a sculptor, can set his own work schedule. “I told people we have a brightly colored ball and we’ll be out here.”

His son Hayden, 10, a soccer enthusiast, said playing the game in the snow “is a lot slower.

“There’s a lot of ice underneath,” he said. “And that makes the ball move slower.”

When asked why he’d decided to come out in a snowstorm, Miles Lance, also 10, said simply, “Hayden invited me.”

Open for business

A little farther down Main street, managers of the Williamsburg General Store said they had no plans to close early. “Unless the lights go out,” said co-owner Heather Majercik, who was working the cash register at around 1:30 p.m.

“We were going to put out a sign that said, ‘We’re not scared of the snow,’” added Majercik, whose family has owned the store since 1978. “It’s not hard to stay open when you live above the store.”

She said they sold a lot of baked goods Friday morning. By afternoon, the display case still had a number of coffee cakes, “red tart” cherry pies and sticky buns available.

Max Starburton, 19, was on his way to his parents’ home in Easthampton and stopped off to pick up a homemade pizza.

“This should hold me over,” he said with a smile.

As the afternoon wore on, it appeared in much of the area tjat people were heeding the advice of state officials urging them to stay off the roads and inside their homes.

Spots that would seem to be perfect for cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, or even just walking through fresh powder were eerily empty Friday afternoon.

Parks and school yards in Northampton and Easthampton were blanketed with untouched snow, and most sidewalks were barren as traffic volume trickled to almost nothing as the 4 p.m. statewide driving ban approached.

Local beer and wine sellers were doing a brisk business.

Sam Braudis, owner of the Tru Beer craft beer store in Easthampton, declared a “snowmaggedon sale” on some of its more powerful brews.

Braudis said as people began to stock up on supplies for the weekend they bought about twice as much beer as they normally would on a Thursday — and brisk sales continued through Friday.

The advantage to having quality beer in the house when there’s a power failure, he said, is that most craft beers are appropriate to serve at room temperature, making refrigeration unnecessary.

Of course if you do have beers that need chilling and you lose power, Braudis said that’s any easy fix.

“Just put them outside,” he said.




 

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